Passengers crowd SGR as Easter holiday starts

[Photo: Courtesy]

Travellers between Nairobi and Mombasa have raised bookings on the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) as the Easter holiday starts today.

The train service presents a more affordable option as air and road fares have traditionally gone up over the long weekend.

Holiday makers are parting with up to Sh16,000 to fly to Mombasa from Sh12,000 previously while Malindi is priced at Sh18,000. Bus fares have also risen by an average of Sh300 one way.

Train tickets meanwhile cost Sh1,000 for the one way trip to the coastal town, with early birds such as Jane Wamalwa having booked in March. 

“Why pay up to 10 times more on the plane while you can save greatly using the train? This is the question I asked myself and chose to book in advance because last December I spent a fortune on transport after missing the train,” Ms Wamalwa, a government auditor, said.

She is travelling with her two children to the Coast.

The train service was fully booked weeks in advance by the bargain hunters, according to Kenya Railways Acting Managing Director Philip Mainga.

The train that shuttles between Nairobi and Mombasa daily was fully booked yesterday and today to the coastal city and on April 20 to the capital, said Mr Mainga.

He, however, said they would add more coaches on the train to cater for increased demand. Service providers normally cash in on the increased travellers.

“We have added more flights to Kisumu on Thursday and Friday,” national carrier Kenya Airways informed customers on Wednesday.

In 2018, the SGR ferried 1.7 million passengers, according to data from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics.

This was more than double the passengers it handled it 2017 when it started operations.

Besides the affordable fares and convenience, the Madaraka Express is popular for the ease in booking, with passengers able to access tickets on their phones.

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