People wishing to travel between Mombasa and Nairobi during the festive season may be forced to use other means as Madaraka Express trains bookings surge.
Kenya Railways Corporation (KRC) managing director Atanas Maina on Friday said that the trains are now fully booked each day as many people try to seek convenience.
“People can now book 14 days in advance as we have extended the booking period. There are more people travelling between Mombasa and Nairobi either for leisure, or business,” he said.
He further noted that there has been an increase in the number of people travelling from the Coast to Nairobi and upcountry due to the school holidays and as the festive period approaches.
“People who wish to travel by the trains for Christmas and New Year to Mombasa or Nairobi must book early to overcome disappointment,” he said.
Mr Maina added that from November 1, the number of passengers travelling by the trains had increased to between 4,500 and 4,800 up from 2,700 in October.
In the meantime, the KRC boss said they would maintain the current frequency until they carry out a study on the travel pattern in the last five months.
“If we find out that there is stable passenger demand, then we will find ways of increasing the frequency to be able to meet the demand of travellers,” he added.
Mr Maina said the trains had gained popularity among both local and international tourists, corporate groups and business travellers.
“People enjoy travelling by the trains as they take a shorter period to arrive in Mombasa or Nairobi compared to buses which take up to eight hours,” he said.
He went on: “Travellers also enjoy game viewing as the trains move along the national parks. Travellers can spot elephants and other wild animals while they travel in the trains.”
Lofty Tours director Monika Solanki said some tourists who wanted to travel between Mombasa and Nairobi by Madaraka Express were unable to since the trains were fully booked.
“For the last three days, I have been unable to book my clients who were planning to travel from Nairobi to Mombasa by train,” she said.
Her clients, therefore, had to travel by air which is more costly as trains charge Sh700 per trip.
Since the Madaraka Express trains were introduced in June, they have become popular to both locals and tourists.
Kenya Association of Hotelkeepers and Caterers Coast branch executive officer Sam Ikwaye said domestic guest numbers in the hotels had soared since the trains were introduced.
“The Madaraka Express trains have boosted domestic tourism in Mombasa,” he said.