Barely two months since Kenya commissioned its Chinese-built Standard Gauge Railway, the transport system is seeing heavy demand from travellers between Nairobi and Mombasa.
The service, dubbed the Madaraka Express, has transported approximately 150,000 passengers with the demand increasing on daily basis, according to Atanas Maina, managing director of Kenya Railways Corporation.
Kenya Railways said it will review the passenger numbers so as to increase the frequency of trains and number of locomotives in order to meet the growing demand.
"The corporation remains committed to meeting this growing need by increasing the number of trains as well as frequency of schedule, all in due course," he said.
The train's average speed is 100 kilometers per hour. Trains have been stopping only at Mtito Andei to allow for passage of the oncoming intercity train. However, from Aug 1 another stop will be introduced at Voi.
"Operations at the remaining intermediate stations, namely Mariakani, Miasenyi, Kibwezi, Emali and Athi River, will start once the operations of the county trains commence," Maina told a news briefing.
He said KR is currently revisiting the ticket format and will soon be rolling out a new version of the tickets incorporating passenger's identification details, thus addressing the issue of unscrupulous purchase and resale of tickets at a premium.
"We have enhanced surveillance at the termini and the security team is on the ground to monitor any such occurrences and handle them appropriately," Maina said.
He noted that the ticketing process has taken a lot of time because the handover process from construction to Kenya railways and then to the operator was delayed. "We now have technical team on the ground and hope in the next few weeks we will launch an online ticketing platform," he said.
So far, the SGR has moved close to 38,000 metric tons of the government-imported cereal. It is carrying an average of 88 Twenty Foot containers and taking around 8 hours between Mombasa and Nairobi.
The corporation has received 18 more freight locomotives and 60 wagons designed for double-stacking on the SGR freight operations. This will go further in decongesting the Port of Mombasa as well as Mombasa Road. These rolling stock are made by CRRC Corporation Limited.
China Road and Bridge Corporation, the contractor of the depot, is expected to hand over the facility to KR for official commencement of cargo operations in December.
Operations on the SGR line and Madaraka Express service between Mombasa and Nairobi are set to improve the overall efficiency of passenger and freight transportation within the northern corridor.
The modern, high capacity Madaraka Express will carry up to 1 million passengers a year, increasing to 1.5 million passengers a year by the third year of operations. The SGR will also run freight trains.
According to Maina, the relocation plan for the phase two of the SGR project is now complete.
The plan is to establish an extended safety corridor for railway operations and maintenance in Mukuru and Kibera.
Maina noted that the contractor mobilization for phase two is currently ongoing in preparation for land acquisition and subsequent commencement of construction.
"Identification of financiers for the Naivasha sub-county to Kisumu (phase 2 B) of the SGR project is currently ongoing," Maina added.
About CRRC Corporation Limited
CRRC is the world's largest supplier of rail transit equipment with the most complete product lines and leading technologies. Its main businesses cover the R&D, design, manufacture, repair, sale, lease and technical services for rolling stock, urban rail transit vehicles, engineering machinery, all types of electrical equipment, electronic equipment and parts, electric products and environmental protection equipment, consulting services, industrial investment and management, asset management, import and export.