About 400 Chinese operators have signed a deal with China Road and Bridge Cooperation (CRBC) to be part of the daily operators of Madaraka Express train.
The team comprises experienced engineers, security personnel and staff of rail operations from China who will be in Kenya for the next 10 years until the railway operation is handed over to the Kenyan team, according to Kenya Railways Managing Director Atanas Maina.
Mr Maina, who spoke to Business Daily in Nairobi said there are currently 300 local trained personnel manning the train.
“We intend to add a few more going forward. This will depend on the volume of business and the skill sets required,” said Maina.
The move comes days after more than 1,000 passenger were left stranded for 89 minutes after an engine stalled in Kibwezi.
The train, which had left Mombasa terminus at 9:00am was scheduled to arrive in Nairobi at 1:42 pm ended up arriving at 3:30pm.
The managing director said a technical alert was issued from the system, which forced the crew to stop the train in line with operating safety procedures.
“We are confident of the functionality of the Madaraka Express and safety of our passengers remains paramount. We are working on continuous improvement of our service in order to improve on our customer’s experience,” he said.
Since its launch, the train has carried more than 700,000 passengers charging Sh700 and Sh3,000 on economy class and first class coaches respectively.
It is one of the key Jubilee Administration’s promises under the improvement of infrastructure sector that also includes the upgrading of the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, the Mombasa port and Lamu Port-South Sudan-Ethiopia-Transport (Lapsset) Corridor.
The stretch between Mombasa and Nairobi marks the first part of the railway line that is intended to terminate in Malaba on the Kenya-Uganda border.
Nairobi and Mombasa are the main termini of the modern standard gauge railway line that has 31 stations in between.