Kenya Railways Open to Collaborate with KATA on SGR Opportunities  14th Sep 2017

The Managing Director of Kenya Railways Mr. Atanas Maina says that his Corporation is ready and willing to collaborate with KATA travel agents to exploit opportunities created by the newly launched Standard Gauge Railway.

This announcement comes as a big relief to travel agents who have been seeking to find ways to partner with Kenya Railways in the purchase of train tickets for their clients.  The MD stated that the SGR being one of the biggest infrastructural development projects undertaken by the Government since independence, was meant to create opportunities for Kenya along its corridors and called on Kenyans from all spheres to take full advantage. Mr. Maina made these remarks during a KATA members Industry breakfast meeting held at Jacaranda Hotel on Friday 8thSeptember 2017.

While acknowledging that the Corporation had experienced some teething problems during the initial period of operating the Madaraka Express, the MD assured travel agents that they were doing all they could to remedy the situation. “We are doing our best to manage the challenges and are equally happy that concerns raised are now not of the construction phase but services provided”. The Managing Director explained to participants the history of the SGR project saying that when complete the project would have covered a total of 3,200Km from Mombasa to Kigali through Kampala.

Addressing the thorny issue of ticketing, Mr. Maina asked Kenyans to be patient as the Corporation completes setting up the online booking portal which he was optimistic would start in the month of September. “What we are experiencing is not necessarily the issue of lack of preparedness, we were prepared but not to the extent of the demand we have witnessed. The project was delivered way ahead of schedule and therefore we are now in the final stages of staffing the operator”.  I want to assure Kenyans that the service on Madaraka Express will improve” he said.  At the same time, the MD announced that the allowable window period for purchasing the train tickets will be extended from the current 3 days to 7 days and eventually 30 days. On purchase of bulk tickets he said that it was possible to buy group tickets at the same price as long as the groups did not demand for special services as that would be tantamount to a charter services and would attract a special higher fare.

In response to complaints raised on the standard of services for first class passengers, Mr. Maina noted that some improvements had been done to differentiate the services but warned against very high expectations in comparison with what was offered on airplanes. He also announced that plans had been completed to build a railway line connecting the Nairobi-Syokimau Station with the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport to provide connectivity between air and rail travel.

While addressing the same meeting, KATA Chairman Mr. Mohammed Wanyoike asked the Corporation to fast track the setting up of the online booking portal to ease the pain of Kenyans travelling to the train station to purchase tickets. He also called on Kenya Railways to commence operations of the County train to allow travellers especially those seeking to visit tourist facilities along the railway line to do so with ease. The Chairman asked Kenya Railways to consider contracting accredited travel agents as ticketing agents like what happens in developed countries especially once the frequency of the train travel increase.

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