Holiday Travel Plans in Limbo After Trains Fully Booked

File Photo of Standard Gauge Railway Passenger Train
File Photo of Standard Gauge Railway Passenger Train

Kenyans seeking to travel from Nairobi to Mombasa using the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) ahead of the festive season will have to resort to other means of transport.

According to the statement by the Kenya Railways on November 16, trains operating from the capital to the coastal city are fully booked ahead of the Christmas holidays.

The booking registry showed that the trains to Mombasa recorded 100% booking between December 23 and 24. Only a handful of seats are available on the 25th, and these will most likely be sold out soon.

The Mombasa Terminus of the Standard Gauge Railway.
The Mombasa Terminus of the Standard Gauge Railway.

“The trains are fully booked up to December 24. We have seen a change in the trend where passengers are booking their tickets earlier,” Kenya railways confirmed.

Kenya Railways attributed the rush to secure tickets early to the large number of travellers trooping to the coast, with the majority going for holiday. 

The corporation stated that even for days leading to the festive season, a majority of the seats in the economy class which go for Ksh1,000 had already been booked. This means that those keen on travelling by train will have to pay more for first-class tickets, which are also moving fast.

Notably, there are seats available for both classes from December 26. The same has been witnessed in other sectors, with public service vehicle operators reporting full booking.

Bus and air travel companies which had registered lower numbers for the better part of the year and the more affordable train service are set to tap into the festive season. 

The cost of air tickets as well as bus fare has increased and is expected to hit the roof owing to a rise in demand. In past years, the transport industry has experienced crises during the festive season owing to an overwhelming number of people travelling.

However, Kenyans still have the option of hiring vehicles. A majority of the companies charge per day and have an option of a driver. Alternatively, those travelling the same route can decide to car-pool and share the cost.

Buses and matatus pick up upcountry travellers at Nairobi's famous Machakos country bus station
Long distance buses at Nairobi's Machakos Country Bus Station in a photo dated November 2017