Kenya Railways dodge question of SGR fare increase


(Posted 06th November 2017)

While Kenya’s tourism marketeers are getting into gear at the World Travel Market in London to promote the destination, the use of the new SGR passenger train service between Nairobi and Mombasa – stops in Mtito Andei and Voi included – has Kenya Railways in their usual fashion declined to answer questions what the fares between the various destinations will be come 2018.
Safari operators have been struggling to get answers and when Maina had the opportunity last week to shed light on the new tariffs, he as often before dodged the question, leaving those who have to quote safari itineraries which include the use of the train out in the proverbial cold – London temperatures as this article is filed stand at 4 C.

Maina evaded repeat questions to what level the fare in second class, which presently stands at 700 Kenya Shillings one way between Nairobi and Mombasa or vice versa – less for intermediate destinations – will rise next year nor was any feedback given about the present 3.000 Kenya Shillings first class fare.
Other organizations, like the Kenya Wildlife Service – leave alone hotels, lodges and resorts – in contrast behave in a more user friendly and forward looking way as they give tariff increase indications way in advance so that the tourism industry, struggling as it is, can quote safari and vacation packages with the certainty that no sudden price increases are sprung at them while they are bound by their initial quotations.

It is also still a sad fact that many areas of complaints are yet to be addressed by Kenya Railways / SGR such as the availability of baggage carts or porters, shelter right from the parking to the terminal and the opening of food and drink outlets in the terminal, more important now that a second daily train has been launched.
Maina and his PR team have since the start of SGR operations faced several social media s***storms but in typical bureaucratic fashion largely ignored the often very constructive critique presented to them as if they lived on a different
planet altogether.

Decisions often had to be reversed, like the cancellation of train services on election day in August, when government pulled the leash sharply on Maina and his team after an initial unilateral announcement that the trains that day would not operate.

It is clear that these bureaucrats are not fit to be the public face of the corporation and the recruitment of qualified marketing and PR staff, besides a change of mindset in the top offices is now much needed to make the SGR operation a lasting success.