Since 1902

Madaraka Express game changer in transport

The festive season is here with us, again. As is always the norm, many people travel upcountry to spend the holiday with their families. Still, others find time to sample the various tourist destinations Kenya has to offer locals as well as foreigners. Mombasa and other coastal towns remain the preferred destinations. Most people travel during the festive season because it is the only time a number of companies close down and allow employees to take leave. And because of high bus and air fares, majority of Kenyans can only afford to travel once a year.

With the advent of the Standard Gauge Railway, Madaraka Express has proved a preferred option for travel between Nairobi and Mombasa. Operated by the Africa Star Railway Operation Company (Afristar), in conjunction with the Kenya Railways Corporation (KRC), the Madaraka Express passenger trains travel at a speed of 120km/h, thus condensing travel duration between destinations on the route.

Notably, travel time between Nairobi and Mombasa has reduced from more than 10 hours to less than 5, facilitating convenience to residents along the line, changing their lives and work style, and bringing them more possibilities for development. The appeal of the service, combined with innovations and hard work of the staff in creating a world class experience, gives an assurance that the future outlook is bright for this service.

Approximately 90,000 passengers are expected to use the train between December 18 and January 4, 2020. To cater for the rising demand during the festive season, five coaches will be added effective December 22 to January 3, 2020—one first class and four economy class on the inter-county trains from Mombasa to Nairobi (N2) and the Express train from Mombasa to Nairobi (E1). The train schedules and fares remain unchanged. Personalised assistance is also provided to passengers using wheel chairs by well-trained attendants.

The operator allows individual passengers to cancel their journeys at least 24 hours before the scheduled date of travel while group bookings must be cancelled within 72 hours. Each train has at least one or two crew that have received certified training on first aid. Passengers taken ill aboard the train are also evacuated to the nearest hospital.

That a train holiday is a relaxed voyage cannot be gainsaid. The long queues and mad rush associated with road and air transport have no place. Instead, travellers sit back, relax and fully enjoy a holiday where traffic jams are swapped for spectacular scenery and high end dining experiences.

Madaraka Express passengers, in addition, enjoy various amenities including food courts, breastfeeding area and complimentary coffee/tea for first class passengers at the boarding stations.

To avoid unnecessary inconvenience, passengers are advised to observe punctuality, have original identification documents and a valid ticket. The maximum weight allowed for hand luggage is 30kg for adults and 15kg for children. Alcohol is strictly not allowed on board.

There is no denying that railway is the most romantic way to travel, offering a sense of charm and tranquility that can’t be matched by other modes of transport. When you travel by Madaraka Express, you cover more ground. And with the escalating cost of living, train travel is looking increasingly attractive to budget-conscious travellers, not to mention that a scenic train ride can even be a vacation in itself.

On its part, KRC, in collaboration with Afristar, has made a conscious decision to make a mark in the sector by putting in place tailored strategies to improve and revitalise services to fill a void that has existed for a long time.

World over, railway services play a significant and critical role in mass transport as opposed to relying on vehicular transport that is the case here.

Rail transport, as a result of its energy efficiency, reduced greenhouse gas emissions and lower cost per ton kilometer. In comparison to other means of transportation, railways are particularly useful in mass transit systems for both inter-city and urban settings.