CHEAP TRAIN FARES TO LURE PASSENGERS FROM BUSSES AND AIRLINES
(Posted 07th May 2017)
Ahead of the formal launch of the new Standard Gauge Railway, in short known as SGR, between the Kenyan capital Nairobi and the port city of Mombasa on the 01st of June – coinciding with Madaraka Day when Kenya attained internal self governance – has the Cabinet Secretary for Transport suggested that fares on the train will be half of what busses currently charge on the route.
While the train terminals are outside the respective city centres – unlike bus companies which take passengers to the city centres – will the radical cut in cost no doubt attract thousands of passengers presently using buses to travel between Nairobi and Mombasa. Added cost will however come the way of the travelers as they need to commute by taxi or other means from the terminals in Nairobi and Mombasa to their final destination. It is understood though that like at the airports in both cities shuttle busses of hotels and resorts may also be picking up and dropping off passengers from the railway stations in order to tap into that market segment of travelers who will switch from bus and air to rail.
On offer will be three different classes, Economy, Business and First Class similar to what airlines offer, with those too now becoming a target of the new rail operation. Traveling from Jomo Kenyatta International Airport has become a bothersome experience for many given the intrusive security checks before one can board an aircraft – which while only taking about an hour to cover the distance between the two cities does require many additional hours to get to the airport and make one’s way through the various security checks, three to be precise when travelling out of JKIA.
There will be a security checkpoint at the new rail stations too but just one and passengers will not be subjected to having to dump their drinking water unlike at airports.
Given current bus fares of between 1.000 and 1.500 Kenya Shillings for the Nairobi to Mombasa route could rail passengers, at least for the first six months of operations, pay as little as 800 Kenya Shillings, constituting a major saving even though the added railway station to final destination cost has to be added to it. This fare would be for economy class passengers and no indications have been given about the cost of travel in business or first class carriages.
From usually well informed sources in Kenya is it understood that initially two trains will run in each direction, one a fast train with only one stop at the halfway point in Mtito Andei – springboard to Tsavo West National Park – while the regular train will stop at as many as seven stations enroute.