Kenya Railways (KR) marked yet another milestone as the Madaraka Express Passenger Service reached one year of operations since its launch in May 31, 2017. The public’s uptake of the service has been nothing less than astounding. Currently, more than 1,142,000 passengers have used the Madaraka Express passenger train with the demand increasing every day.
The service’s uptake is largely attributed to the numerous benefits it holds over alternative modes such as unparalleled comfort of the coaches and the reduced travel time between the Port City and Nairobi which averages at 5.5 hours.
In the celebratory ceremony held at the Nairobi Terminus on May 31, 2018, the Kenya Railways Managing Director, Mr. Atanas Maina, hailed the one year of operations as having surpassed expectations to perform exceptionally well with the future looking even brighter. “The service has presented new opportunities for Kenyans through job creation and technology transfer while helping in navigating transport challenges which had partly hindered Kenya from fully realizing its domestic potential. The service has had a positive impact on the tourism sector by encouraging the growth of domestic tourism. According to the Kenya Tourism Board, bed occupancy has increased to more than 90% up from 50% in previous years, a factor largely attributable to the Madaraka Express,” he said.
Since the launch, KR has actively sought to improve the Madaraka Express experience for customers by strategically introducing new developments from time to time. In August 2017, the inter-county train service was introduced with the inaugural stops being at Voi and Mtito Andei. This was swiftly followed by the launch of the full inter-county train service in November which makes stops at all the 7 intermediate stations. This greatly widened our customer base while increasing the service’s efficiency for them. The inter-county train leaves Mombasa at 7.15 am and Nairobi at 8.00am while the express train leaves Mombasa at 3.15pm and Nairobi at 2.30pm.
In September 2017, KR launched the USSD ticket booking platform which requires customers to dial the short code *639# from a Safaricom line to book their tickets and pay for them via Mpesa. In January 2018, in an effort to make the ticket booking even more efficient, KR introduced the online booking option which requires customers to visit the website metickets.krc.co.ke from where they can select their preferred date of travel, point of boarding and destination, the coach type (First Class or Economy class) as well as other details such as number of passengers traveling. The introduction of the online booking platform also increased the booking window to 30 days (individual) and 32 days (group booking) up from 14 days and 16 days respectively.
Kenya Railways is working together with the Madaraka Express Operator, China Road and Bridge Corporation to fast track even more developments on the service in order to ensure it remains the top choice for travellers plying the Mombasa – Nairobi route.
Currently the SGR construction is ongoing, with Phase 2A having reached Duka Moja. Just like Phase One (MSA – NRB), many Kenyans are already enjoying the benefits of Phase 2A through the numerous employment opportunities at the various sites across the project. It is anticipated that this phase will be operational and servicing the country’s development agenda by June 2019.