, NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 31 – The Kenya Railways Corporation (KRC) will from January 1 adjust the advance ticket booking window for the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) passenger train from the current fourteen days to thirty days.
The announcement was published Saturday night on the corporation’s twitter handle as part of the firm’s New Year message.
Since the launch of the passenger service mid this year, about half a million travelers have used the train, according to statistics released by the firm recently.
“So far, the service has moved over 337,000 passengers between the port city of Mombasa and Nairobi, with the number growing daily,’’ Cabinet Secretary in charge of Transport James Macharia said on November 1 while launching an inter-county train service at the Nairobi SGR terminus.
The launch of the new service brought the number of trains in operation to four since the inauguration of the SGR on May 31 by President Uhuru Kenyatta, the Head of State at the time taking a ride aboard the train alongside his Deputy William Ruto and other senior government officials from the coastal city of Mombasa to the capital Nairobi.
Currently, two inter-county trains leave Mombasa and Nairobi at 7:15 am and 8:00 am respectively traversing six counties through the Miasenyi, Voi, Mtito Andei, Kibwezi, Emali and Athi River termini.
Similarly, two express trains depart the two cities every afternoon; one leaving Nairobi at 2.30 pm, the other leaving Mombasa at 3:15 pm.
Passengers traveling between the two cities pay Sh 700 on economy class and Sh 3,000 on first class.
The economy class fare was reduced on May 31 following intervention by President Kenyatta who ordered the revision of the price of an economy class ticket between Mombasa and Nairobi from Sh 900 to Sh 700.
“Since its launch in June, the Madaraka Express has endeavored to lower the cost of transport and make it more affordable for Kenyans to travel for both business and leisure,” Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia noted during the launch of the inter-county train service.
Macharia also announced at the time plans to transit from the current diesel-powered locomotives to electric powered.
The conversion will double the speed of SGR trains which is currently capped at 120km/h.
The express train takes five hours to move between Mombasa and Nairobi. The introduction of electric-powered locomotives is expected to halve the time used to travel between the two cities.
“We were not sure of the electric power supply, that is why we started with diesel but provided a provision to upgrade it later to electric by 2021,” the CS said.
KRC has also been running trials for cargo trains which when launched will facilitate delivery of goods from the coastal city to the capital within eight hours.
According to the corporation, the maximum cost of transporting a fully loaded 20ft container will be Sh 49,500 for the full distance between the port of Mombasa and the Nairobi Inland Container Depot (ICD) in Embakasi.
“Agricultural inputs will so enjoy a lower rate at a minimum cost of Sh 16,500 for a minimum distance of 200 km and a maximum cost of Sh 41,250 for the full distance,” reads a publication on the KRC website.
“The minimum chargeable weight for non-containerized cargo is 70 tones while that of light down traffic such as foodstuffs, steel, animal feeds and paper is set at 43 tones per bogie wagon,” it further states.
During the launch of the ICD in Embakasi on December 16, President Kenyatta reiterated his government’s commitment to decongesting the seaport of Mombasa hence improving efficiency.
“Over the last four years the government has invested in the expansion of the country’s transport and infrastructure network with a view of reducing the cost of doing business while creating new business and employment opportunities,” President Kenyatta said.
“The launch of the Madaraka Express in May this year has already had a significant impact on the tourism sector, boosting both foreign and domestic tourism; today’s commissioning of the new Nairobi Inland Container Depot is expected to pass on the benefit to both importers and exporters of cargo,” he noted.