SGR fully booked to Coast as Kenyans defy COVID-19 for Christmas holidays

Madaraka Express
Madaraka Express train. [Photo: courtesy]

Kenyans have defied the COVID-19 wave and set out for the holidays with the Coast being a favourite destination.

For the week ending December 27, the SGR passenger train is fully booked. The Madaraka Express will be plying the Nairobi-Mombasa route.

This comes even as the virus continues to ravage the country and forcing many Kenyans to stay at home. However, the penchant for travel after months of battling the virus indoors have forced a huge number of Kenyans to hit the road as they travel for the holidays.

Hoteliers at the coast say that they are operating at 80% which is a good number considering that there are COVID-19 restrictions in place governing the industry.

Bus companies operating in these routes have a booming business at the moment as travelers fall back to them as an alternative since the SGR is fully booked.

Fares have also doubled as demand increases and is expected to continue for the next week as people travel to different destinations in the country.

For the SGR though, ticket prices remain constant with that for the first class going for Ksh3,000 per head and Ksh1,000 for the economy class per head.

The Madaraka express train has a capacity of 1,260 passengers with at least 15 economy class coaches and three first class coaches.

In November, Kenya Railways announced that it would increase the number of coaches to cater for the rising demand on the SGR for the festive season.

Since its launch in 2017, the SGR has ferried more than two million Kenyans to and from the Coast.

But even as business for the SGR booms, it took a hit when COVID-19 was first reported in the country. It remained grounded since March and only started operations with low passenger demand.

However, the demand rose from August when COVID-19 cases seemed to have slowed down.

Anne Maina who is Kenya Railway’s Senior Coporate Affairs officer told Nairobi News that: “The Madaraka Express passenger service has seen a steady rise in passenger numbers from July 13. Shortly after resumption, the maximum seat occupancy was 50 percent.”

“The trains are filled to capacity just as like always. The seat occupancy is about 94 per cent now.”