Travellers to Machakos, Makueni, Taita-Taveta, Kwale and Kilifi counties will enjoy cheaper fares from Nairobi and Mombasa on the inter-county train service that begins Wednesday.
In an advert in Monday’s dailies, Kenya Railway Corporation announced the introduction of the train service that will make short stops in the seven county stations.
The stations are Athi River in Machakos; Emali, Kibwezi and Mtito Andei in Makueni; Voi in Taita-Taveta, Miasenyi on the border of Taita-Taveta and Kwale counties; and Mariakani in Kilifi County.
It will take one Sh360 to travel from Mtito Andei to Nairobi on the economy ticket, which is Sh140 cheaper than what a bus passenger pays.
Those heading to Voi from Nairobi will pay Sh510 in the economy class, Sh490 lower than the ordinary fare.
The inter-county train, which will be leaving Mombasa and Nairobi at 8am, will make stopovers of between three and five minutes at the countryside stations, and will be arriving in Nairobi and Mombasa at 2.07pm and 1.40pm respectively.
The introduction of the inter-county train comes when the express service commissioned by President Uhuru Kenyatta in May has been lauded as comfortable, fast and efficient.
“We have operated for 152 days and the train has ferried approximately 400,000 passengers,” KRC managing director Athanas Maina told the Nation on Monday.
The inter-county train service will affect the schedule of the express train that has been operating in the morning.
“The express service will run in the afternoon while the county service will run in the morning,” Mr Maina added.
Like the express service, travellers on the economy class will pay Sh700 from Mombasa to Nairobi while the premium first class ticket will go for Sh3,000.
Travellers on the Nairobi-Mtito Andei route that the Nation spoke to Monday were excited with the new train service.
“It is good though we may not be able to offload all our luggage in the three minutes they are giving us,” Ms Grace Mutua, a trader at Kibwezi township, said.
However, matatu and bus operators said they felt the train service would kill their business.
“The introduction of the service could push our vehicles out of business,” Mr Steve Mutuku, the chairman of an association of matatus operators, said.
The vehicles in his sacco ply the Nairobi, Machakos, Makueni and Kitui routes.
According to Mr Mutuku, the government should cushion investors in the matatu industry against losses by allowing saccos to own some wagons in the inter-county train service.