More than 3 million passengers have travelled between the Kenyan capital of Nairobi and the port city of Mombasa using the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) commuter train, officials said on Friday.
James Macharia, cabinet secretary in the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure, said at an event to mark the second anniversary since the launch of SGR passenger service dubbed Madaraka Express that it has impacted positively on livelihoods.
“The service has presented new opportunities for Kenyans through job creation and technology transfer while helping in navigating transport challenges which had partly hindered Kenya from fully realising its domestic potential,” said Macharia.
He said that Madaraka Express has injected vitality into strategic sectors of the Kenyan economy like tourism, agriculture and manufacturing.
“According to Kenya Tourism Board, bed occupancy has increased to more than 90 percent up from 50 percent in previous years, a factor largely attributable to the Madaraka Express,” said Macharia.
Guo Ce, economic and commercial counsellor at the Chinese Embassy in Kenya, said the SGR which is a critical component of the Belt and Road Initiative, has promoted bilateral cooperation between Beijing and east Africa’s largest economy.
The SGR train service that was recently listed among 13 best rail tours in the world was launched on May 31, 2017 by President Uhuru Kenyatta.
Li Jiuping, general manager of SGR Operator, said it has for the last two years offered seamless, affordable and secure mode of transporting passengers and goods.
“Currently, two pairs of passenger trains are in daily operation, with average seat occupancy at above 90 percent,” said Li.
He said the SGR Operator has prioritised technical transfer and recruitment of local personnel to run key departments.
Philip Mainga, acting Managing Director of Kenya Railways Corporation (KRC), said that the SGR commuter train has in the last two years evolved its mode of operation to boost safety, efficiency and customer satisfaction.