SGR Trains Fully Booked Ahead of Christmas

The standard gauge railway (SGR) passenger service from Nairobi to Mombasa is fully booked ahead of Christmas, forcing holidaymakers to seek more expensive alternatives such as air travel, which has seen fares more than double.

According to the bookings register, the trains are fully booked on December 23, with only a few seats left on second-class coaches on December 24 expected to be filled in the coming days.

This is expected to benefit bus companies and airlines such as Jambojet and Fly540 as families flock to Mombasa for the Christmas season festivities.

Airlines have also raised fares for early bookings on flights from Nairobi to Mombasa and Malindi more than a month before Christmas, and ticket prices are expected to rise further in the coming weeks.

Jambojet is currently charging up to Sh16,300 on one-way air tickets from Nairobi to Mombasa on December 24, up from Sh7,000 today.

Tickets to Malindi from the capital for flights on December 24 have increased from Sh7,000 to Sh17,300.

Flights to the coastal towns of Malindi and Mombasa are expected to exceed Sh25,000 this year due to increased demand.

This means that Kenyans planning to book flights close to December 25 will pay more, boosting the revenues of carriers that have been hard hit by the State’s tight travel measures imposed to combat Covid-19.

Increased bookings have also been observed in the days leading up to Christmas, indicating that more people will choose to travel to the coast before December 25.

On December 22, for example, the SGR train has a few seats available, primarily in economy coaches because the first-class section is fully booked.

Economy class tickets cost Sh1,000, while first-class tickets cost Sh3,000.

Children under the age of three are free to ride the train, while those aged three to eleven pay half the adult fare.

The increase in December bookings to the Coast is a boon for hoteliers who have had one of their worst years and are hoping for an increase in visitor numbers in December.