Kenya: Nairobi-Nanyuki Train Proves Popular With Travellers During Christmas

At least 5,500 people used the Nairobi-Nanyuki train during the Christmas holidays, Kenya Railways Corporation (KRC) has said.

The train made three trips, with the coaches filled to capacity as some of the excited travellers used that means of transport for the first time.

The commuter train made its maiden trip to Nanyuki on December 12 after almost two decades.

It has been making one trip – during weekends – since.

Business for more than 350 matatus and buses plying the Nanyuki-Nairobi route was hit badly, as the thousands of passengers opted to travel by train.

The low fare of Sh200 saw at least 4,000 people opt for the railway after the corporation increased the number of trips to and from Nairobi.

The matatu fare from Nairobi to Nanyuki on ordinary days ranges between Sh400 to Sh600 but it can double during the Christmas and New Year festivities.

The State firm announced on Sunday that it would double the number of trains from Nanyuki to the city to carter for the high passenger figures.

The coaches were filled to capacity. There were at least 1,600 passengers per trip.

The train made several stops to pick and drop more passengers.

Low fares

“We expect to carry more than 3,200 passengers but the actual number will be confirmed at the end of the trip,” Kenya Railways Managing Director Phillip Mainga told journalists on Sunday.

However, some passengers stood all the way while others sat on the floor of the coaches.

Families with children had a hard time controlling and making them comfortable.

The revival of travel on the Nanyuki railway route has, however, elicited concerns from public service vehicle owners and operators who say the low fares disadvantage them.

Matatu operators say the increase in fares has been occasioned by the directive from the Ministry of Health to carry less passengers in a bid to stop the spread of coronavirus.

The matatu industry players called for talks with KRC “to standardise the charges on passengers”.

A 14-seater matatu is only allowed to carry nine nine passengers per trip.

“We are losing business because anyone would go for lower fares. Ours is a free market. The revival of the railway is good for the country’s economy but there should be some fairness with regards to what passengers pay,” Mt Kenya Matatu Owners Association chairman Michael Kariuki told the Nation.