Why hyped inter-county SGR train service failed to start

There has been a delay due to the fact that most of the operator’s (China Road and Bridge Corporation) key staff are arriving now and require time to go through the handover processes. 

The long awaited launch of the inter-county train services on the Mombasa-Nairobi Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) line has been postponed due to lack of technical staff to operate the locomotives.

Kenya Railways (KR) yesterday evening announced that operations of the inter-county train service on the Madaraka Express will not commence on Saturday, July 1, 2017, as planned.

Kenya Railways Managing Director Atanas Maina said the plans have been hampered by the late arrival of some of the operator’s key staff. This has in turn delayed critical technical and operational processes that were required to enable the service commence today.

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“We had anticipated that critical technical and operational handover processes would have been completed by now,” he said.

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“However, there has been a delay due to the fact that most of the operator’s (China Road and Bridge Corporation) key staff are arriving now and require time to go through the handover processes. We expect to conclude the handover processes in the coming weeks and launch the Inter-County train service soon.”

Tourism minister Najib Balala said this week Kenya Railways will in July increase the frequency of Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) passenger trains between Mombasa and Nairobi to accommodate increasing demand from travellers.

Mr Balala said four more Madaraka Express trains will transport passengers between Mombasa and Nairobi starting July. Three trains would transport commuters to Nairobi daily while three others ferry passengers to Mombasa.

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Mr Maina said the huge numbers seeking Madaraka Express services daily are a confirmation of the need for an effective transport system.

“We are receiving a lot of feedback, and have deployed teams to address customer care and operational concerns that keep emerging,” he added. “We anticipate that by this slight extension, we shall address any impending issues, and streamline all service areas to ensure a seamless experience for all our passengers plying the nine key locations.”

So far, Madaraka Express has transported approximately 75,000 passengers on the express train which has been operational for a month now. The Madaraka Express is currently operating with scheduled passenger trains from Nairobi and Mombasa running on a daily basis.

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It was projected that with the introduction of the inter-county service, Kenya Railways would revise the existing schedule to include return trips thus enabling customers to travel between Mombasa and Nairobi in both directions on the same day.

Passenger numbers on the service are surging daily and the operator has increased the capacity of the train through introduction of additional coaches and now each train is carrying approximately 1,500 passengers per train. Cargo operations have also commenced on a trial basis as the handover process is undertaken ahead of the launch of freight operations later in the year.

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