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Educational trips and leisure travel providers are fast changing their business models as the fast trains gain popularity on the Nairobi-Mombasa route.
Service providers said they have dropped “outmoded” costly operations to embrace SGR after the government launched the train service on June 1.
Bonfire Adventures, a leisure travel and events firm, says business has changed radically since the fast trains began to operate.
“Our travel package has become affordable because we no longer have to book flight tickets or organise transport vans which used to make our rates high,” said Ms Faith Mutindi, a manager at the firm.
“The biggest component of our cost now is accommodation.”
The firm, in partnership with the Kenya Tourist Board, has rolled out promotional weekend travel packages to encourage Kenyans to ride on SGR trains to Mombasa.
Through the promotion period, families can book three-day holidays at select Coast hotels, travel from Nairobi to Mombasa by train and later connect to the north coast hotels by vans at only Sh13,500.
“All we do is reserve train seats to ensure our clients travel together to the booked hotels,” said Ms Mutindi
Similarly, Nairobi-based Le Pic School has said its pupils will be heading to Mombasa this morning for this term’s trip using the high-speed train.
The school administrators said they have confirmed allocation of seats in the Madaraka Express where pupils will be travelling in the economy class, a trend that is expected to gain momentum when schools close for the August holidays.
The coastal region has attraction such as beaches, monuments and islands which pull in hundreds of students every year.
Madaraka Express charges Sh700 for adults and Sh350 for children for the four hour journey down from the usual high season where buses used to charge up to Sh2,500 for the seven hour overnight trip while a trip on its luxury class costs Sh3,000.
“We are set for first school trip on SGR in Kenya! Ride set for Wednesday.” the school said via its tweeter handle.
Also to be changed by SGR is the travel experience for families, church groups as well as social investment groups that prefer to pool resources for the 472-kilometre journey which includes transport, accommodation and meals.
Apart from the express train service, Kenya Airways has announced plans to introduce inter-county service from next month.
The two trains travelling in opposite directions are scheduled to make stopovers at Mariakani, Miaseny, Voi, Mtito Andei, Kibwezi, Emali and Athi River.
Each of the SGR trains has a capacity for 1,260 passengers sitting in the economy class which accommodates 118 passengers per coach. First Class carries up to 72 travellers and the Premier Business Coach reserves space for 34 passengers.
Increased on-the-counter bookings at Nairobi SGR Terminus has seen the establishment of an online platform to help manage bookings and reduce incidence of overbookings that lead to cancellation of tickets.
Last Sunday, Kenya Railways (KR) posted tweet messages informing travellers to seek alternative mode of transport as it had experienced full bookings for the Monday Nairobi-Mombasa express ride.
Increased interest in train travel has necessitated establishment of an online portal to help manage human traffic at the Madaraka Express counters during weekends.
Madaraka Express is also planning to launch an online platform currently under pilot where passengers will choose seats and specific travel days online via mobile phone before making payments for the booking via online banking and on mobile phone payment portals.
To sweeten the deal further, passengers are also getting free bus rides from the Nairobi Central Railway Station on Haile Selassie Avenue to the Nairobi SGR Terminus and from Mombasa Railway Station on Mijikenda Street to the Mombasa SGR Terminus in Miritini.
This article first appeared on www.businessdailyafrica.com
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