SGR to Coast fully booked ahead of Easter


Passengers at the standard gauge railway’s Nairobi terminus automatic ticketing area. PHOTO | EVANS HABIL | NMG

The standard gauge railway (SGR) passenger service from Nairobi to Mombasa is fully booked on the eve of Good Friday, forcing holidaymakers to seek expensive alternatives like road and air travel to the Coast.

The bookings register shows that the trains to Mombasa are fully booked on April 14, ahead of the Easter celebrations.

The train heading to Mombasa on April 15 at 3 pm is also fully booked with a few seats left on the 10 pm train on the same day set to be snapped up in coming days.

This is set to boost bus owners and airlines like Skyward Express, Fly540 and Jambojet as families looking to enjoy the holiday in Mombasa and the South Coast.

Airlines have also increased fares from Nairobi to Mombasa ahead of Easter on early bookings and the ticket prices have jumped to about Sh17,000 on the route up from about Sh5,800 passengers are paying at the moment.

As a result, Kenya Railways which has been operating passenger trains on the Nairobi-Mombasa route since June 2017 will be forced to add more seats on the train to meet increased demand.

“The trains are fully booked on April 14 and partly on April 15. Customers have mastered the art of booking early as it’s the only way out to beat the last-minute rush for tickets,” the Kenya Railways told the Business Daily on Tuesday.

Increased bookings have also been witnessed barely a few days to Easter an indicator that more people will opt to travel to the Coast way before the festivities.

For instance, on April 13, the SGR train has a few seats available, mainly in the economy and first-class sections.

Fares on the economy class section are Sh1,000, with first-class tickets going for Sh3,000.

Children below three years are not charged any fee to take a ride on the train, while those aged three to 11 pay half the fares adults pay on the economy and first-class tickets.

Ticket prices for early plane bookings between April 13 and 14 have nearly doubled on some routes compared to reservations made a month ago while some flights are close to full bookings for the Easter period.

This means that Kenyans intending to fly during the Easter season will pay more, promising to boost revenues of the carriers that were hit hard by tight travel measures that had been imposed by the State to curb Covid-19.

Passengers travelling to Mombasa and Ukunda by Jambojet on Good Friday will part with Sh17,000 from as low as Sh5,800, which they would have paid this week.

Kenya Airways #ticker:KQ will charge Sh12,990 on the same dates for a one-way ticket to Mombasa this Easter from a low of Sh6,740 on April 4.

Most five-star hotels, which rely on tourism, events and conferences, are slowly resuming normal operations barely a few months after the State relaxed Covid-19 restrictions to woe back holidaymakers.

The government eased the restrictions after Kenya’s coronavirus cases dropped steadily following a rise in the number of people who have been vaccinated against the viral disease.

The positivity rate is now at 0.6 percent as Kenya’s daily Covid-19 case count declines on increased mass vaccinations.

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