Madaraka Express train milestones


Madaraka Express arrives at the Mombasa Terminus in Miritini. 

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

Since its launch five years ago, Madaraka Express has continued to register growth in passenger numbers. As of May 20 , 7.71 million passengers had used the service. In 2017, Afristar, the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) operator, ferried 699,055 people and in subsequent years, the operator ferried 666,285 passengers in 2018, 1.62 million in 2019, 835,326 in 2020 and 2 million in 2021.

Kenya Railways Corporation, the regulator of SGR and meter gauge railway operations has ensured the uninterrupted running of the passenger train services for the past five years as well as maintaining an accident-free record throughout that period.

As opposed to public road transport, rail has a large carry capacity— for example, one Madaraka Express passenger train can carry up to 1,678 passengers — is punctual, efficient and convenient as it has fixed routes and schedules.

To ensure smooth operations, there are 39 stations — that is 13 passenger stations, 24 crossing stations and two junction stations.

As part of the localisation programme, Kenya Railways is now responsible for 13 passenger service operations. The corporation is also responsible for passenger revenue management, ticketing and passenger station operation management, ticketing system management, ticketing system-related equipment management, passenger customer service and centre management.

Among the milestones that Madaraka Express is proud of include the commissioning on May 31, 2017, by President Uhuru Kenyatta, the launch of inter-county Madaraka Express passenger services on November 1 , 2017, and celebrating the operation SGR safely for one year on May 31, 2018, which also coincided with the first anniversary.

More milestones are the inauguration of Phase 2A passenger service and the Naivasha ICD by President Kenyatta on October 16, 2019, and the launch of SGR freight services to the Naivasha Inland Container Depot on December 17, 2019. In yet another milestone, Afristar on February 24, 2020 had operated the SGR safely for 1,000 days and marked four years of success on May 31, 2021. In addition, Afristar had operated the SGR safely for 1,500 days as of July 9, 2021.

Finally, on January 11, 2022, transit cargo was offloaded from an SGR train onto an MGR train destined for Malaba as a trial run. The rate of successful passenger operations is attributed to advanced railway equipment such as the Centralised Traffic Control system used in the dispatching centre, the synergy between departments and the strict implementation of train schedules as well as giving priority to passenger trains on the line.

As the company marks five years of operations, things can only get better for passengers. Once SGR operations are fully integrated with the meter gauge railway and the Nairobi commuter train service, passenger numbers will increase significantly.

The author is Executive Adviser, Africa Star Railway Operation Company


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