Kenya’s Standard Gauge Railway has reached the two-million passenger mark in just over one year since it was launched.
Officials from Kenya Railways who presented a bouquet of flowers to the two-millionth passenger said reaching the number 10 months ahead of schedule is an indication of how successful the project is.
Rose Njeri Mbogo, a nurse from the Kenya Medical Training College in Msambweni, made history as the two millionth passenger to travel on the Madaraka Express.
Launched in June 2017, the Madaraka Express has become a big hit with travelers moving between Kenya’s capital Nairobi and the coastal town of Mombasa.
“It has been great for me to travel in between Mombasa to Nairobi and back, and I’ve been on several trips on the Madaraka express. Almost every month, I come even more than once in a month, because I have the family in Nairobi, I work in Mombasa, Msambweni that is. No fatigue, no heat, no sweating on the way,” Mbogo said.
In just over a year, the railway line has changed the face of public transport in Kenya — significantly reducing travel times.
Kenya Railways Acting managing director Philip Mainga said there has been steady growth in passenger numbers and the railway operator has increase train frequency since its launch.
“We started with less than a thousand people when it began, the fast train. To date, an average 1,500,” he said.
Authorities say reaching the two million passenger mark comes 10 months ahead of schedule, an indication of the project’s success.
The prime contractor for the Standard Gauge Railway was the China Road and Bridge Corporation.
Li Xuhang, the Charge D’Affairs at the Chinese Embassy to Kenya, said the steady progress underscores ties between the two countries.
“It is a good start for the operation of Madaraka Express and for the Kenya-china cooperation. I’m optimistic that SGR will hail its five-millionth, 10 millionth or even 100 millionth passenger in the near future,” Li said.