Kenya's latest Inter-county train services spells doom for bus owners

Since the launch the standard gauge rail on May 31, bus owners have been counting huge losses.

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Kenya Railways (KR) managing director Atanas Maina has announced that an inter- county train service will be launched beginning next month to supplement the two Madaraka Express trains through the promotional period that runs up to December.

“In time, the frequency is set to increase to two trains a day with the addition of a county train service that will make stops at all seven intermediate stations,” Mr Maina said.

The two inter-county trains travelling both directions are scheduled to make stopovers at Mariakani, Miaseny, Voi, Mtito Andei, Kibwezi, Emali and Athi River, stretching the journey to six hours.

Since the launch the standard gauge rail on May 31 by President Uhuru, Kenyans have been trickling in large numbers to Kenya railways stations to board the Madaraka express, leaving bus owners high and dry counting huge losses.

According to Kenya railways, there has been a steady increase in the number of commuters since it was launched.

Foreign tourists have also fallen in love with the new SGR train since it is not only affordable, faster but also all passes through magical Tsavo national reserve.

“I have visited Kenya many times travelling by road and as well as by air to Mombasa but I am thrilled by this new train services. It is convenient and cheaper…” Garry Whitworth, a British tourist said at Nairobi terminus before boarding the train to Mombasa.

The two Madaraka Express trains have been travelling daily from directions, offering a four and half hour non-stop connection between Kenya’s two top cities.

A total of 1,416 passengers for instance left Nairobi yesterday aboard first and second classes train services destined to Mombasa, a similar number were also traveling on the opposite direction.

Matatu owners on the other hand have been forced to think outside the box and are now offering door to door services, something which SGR cannot offer.

“We are not worried at all. It is going to be a win-win situation as the new SGR passenger train does not give door-to-door services. The only people I sympathise with are bus owners who have already lost business,” MOA chairman Simon Kimutai told a local daily.

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