, NAIROBI, Kenya May 31 – It’s finally here, the long awaited Standard Gauge Railway passenger train service dubbed Madaraka Express.
President Uhuru Kenyatta flagged off the maiden trip at the Mombasa Terminus at Miritini on Wednesday at 10am, and boarded the train for the trip.
The President was accompanied by his deputy William Ruto, First Lady Margaret Kenyatta, several Cabinet Secretaries, Governors, Members of Parliament and representatives from each county including students.
The Madaraka Express was at full capacity with 1,200 passengers, excited to be a part of history.
“This is going to be big for the country, imagine how easy it will be to travel, especially for us from the Coast. We are really excited about this project,” said Sarah Atete, a resident from Mombasa County said.
She lauded President Kenyatta’s administration for delivering on his promise.
“I am proud of President Uhuru Kenyatta,” she told Capital FM News aboard the train.
The same sentiments were expressed by Michael Karani, from Nakuru County.
For Karani, the Madaraka Express will allow him to travel to the Coast more often than he does throughout the year.
“We are more excited that the project is expected to reach Naivasha in its second phase, this is really connecting us more as Kenyans. I will now travel more and enjoy our beautiful country,” he hoped.
President Kenyatta termed the new train as the beginning of the Jubilee administration’s transformation agenda for the country.
“When we took office, we focused on completing the mega projects that will bring greater good to a greater number of people. We even shelved some of our projects so as to complete the good journey the former administration had begun, we owe it to Kenyans,” he told journalists during the trip.
The inaugural ride made a few stops along the way where the President and his deputy spoke to residents.
“We need to continue with this good work we started, we urge all Kenyans to take pride of this achievement despite the political divide. It is a win for all Kenyans,” President Kenyatta said as he residents at Voi.
During the launch, President Kenyatta lowered the fare price for economy class to Sh700 from the Sh900 announced on Monday by Kenya Railways.
Charges for the first class will be Sh3,000.
“Our people will save a lot for trips to the Coast going forward. Businessmen can now travel from Nairobi to Mombasa in 24 hours; this is transforming lives for Kenyans,” he noted.
Other stops made during the tour included Mtito Andei, Emali, Athi River and Syokimau – the Nairobi terminus with multitudes of people at each stop.
“I have eaten about four times during the ride, the attendants are great! I feel like I am in business class on a plane,” Victor Ochieng from Siaya County said, urging the Kenya Railways Corporation to maintain the same standards.
“The reception of the people through the trip is enormous. We are launching a new premium service in December which will be more expensive than first class,” Kenya Railways Managing Director Atanas Maina told Capital FM News.
According to Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia, Kenyans can begin booking tickets as soon as Thursday with the Kenya Railways Corporation.
“The frequency of the trips will be determined by the market demand,” CS Macharia said.
The rail is the biggest project in the country since independence built at a cost Sh327 billion.
President Kenyatta said prospects for the second phase to Kisumu are at an advanced stage.
“We are ready to complete the feasibility study of the Naivasha – Kisumu railway and the Kisumu port, which will be completed in a few months,” Kenyatta asserted.
So are you ready to book your ticket?