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Holiday or business, Kenyans relish ride on coast passenger train | Coastweek

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Chinese Ambassador to Kenya Liu Xianfa [front second left] attends the launching ceremony at Nairobi Terminus of the Mombasa-Nairobi Standard Gauge Railways (SGR). Guests [right] at Nairobi Terminus of the Mombasa-Nairobi Standard Gauge Railways (SGR). Kenya’s ministry of transport on Wednesday launched new inter-county train service of the SGR with the hope of further boosting business and tourism along the new railway. XINHUA PHOTO - LYU SHUAI

Holiday or business, Kenyans relish ride on coast passenger train

by Christine Lagat NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Abdul Munib was in jovial mood when he alighted from the standard gauge railway (SGR) passenger train at the Nairobi Terminus on Wednesday afternoon accompanied by his wife and four children.

The middle aged businessman based in the coastal city of Mombasa had always planned to ride on the modern train service to Nairobi but was forced to postpone the trip due to disruptions occasioned by a prolonged election season.

During an interview with Xinhua, Munib said he felt relieved after the successful trip to Nairobi via the SGR train service.

"The trip to Nairobi was a thrilling experience for me and my family.

"We enjoyed the sight of wildlife and beautiful landscapes along the route.

"My children were excited when they spotted a herd of elephants in the plains," said Munib.

He was among hundreds of Kenyans who rode on the inter-county SGR passenger train that made seven stops along the Mombasa-Nairobi route as a trial run before its official launch.

"When the SGR was launched about five months ago, the train made rare stops in between the two cities.

Cabinet Secretary for Transport and Infrastructure, James Macharia, launched the inaugural SGR passenger train that will be dropping and picking up passengers in the hinterland while charging them modest fees.

During the launch, Macharia stressed that the high octane politics witnessed during the just concluded elections did not have negative impact on business at the SGR train service.

"I want to assure everyone that SGR passenger train will continue to operate normally despite the highly charged politically environment we are going through after holding repeat presidential polls," Macharia remarked.

Resilient Kenyans like Munib and his fellow travelers were undeterred in their quest for a luxurious ride on a modern passenger train even as the country tried to shake off post-poll uncertainties.

Munib revealed that he travelled to Nairobi via SGR passenger train to fulfill a promise he made to his family when it was launched on May 31 in a glittering ceremony graced by Kenyan and Chinese officials.

"I looked forward to a ride on the SGR train with a sense of urgency and apprehension.

"The trip was a respite to the daily grind and now I feel motivated to use this service often for leisure and business activities," Munib remarked.

He planned to spend a one week holiday in Nairobi at a relative’s house and later use the SGR train to travel back to Mombasa.

Munib clarified that the post-poll gloom that has enveloped many parts of Kenya could not in any way affect his plans to travel to Nairobi via SGR train.

"Let me say that the election season has been challenging to many Kenyans especially the ones in business.

"However, I chose to remain optimistic and never cancelled my holiday plans despite the gloomy predictions," Munib told Xinhua.

The Nairobi-Mombasa SGR train dubbed Madaraka Express operated without major hitches during Kenya’s prolonged electioneering season.

Loise Obiero, an Operations Officer with Kenya Railways Corporation, said the SGR passenger train service managed to weather storms during and after the election period thanks to meticulous contingency plans rolled out by the management.

"Our business was not affected by the elections in a significant way and Kenyan staffers were granted leave of duty to participate in the polls. We also ferried many people traveling to their rural homes to vote," said Obiero.

Her optimistic assessment was reinforced by hundreds of passengers from all walks of life who relished a ride on the inter-county SGR train service that made its maiden trip on Wednesday.

Mary Mavundo, a career teacher and mother of two walked briskly at the Nairobi Terminus’ expansive platform after alighting from the modern train accompanied by her two children.

The resident of Voi town said her first trip to Nairobi via SGR train was an uplifting experience that she will cherish for a long time.

"Now that we are on holiday, I found it prudent to surprise my children with a trip to Nairobi via the SGR train that has gained fame in my hometown," Mavundo told Xinhua.

She vowed to use the SGR passenger train during future trips to Nairobi since it presents a refreshing alternative to the hectic, slow and tiresome ride on the bus.

"Our trip was enjoyable and full of comfort. We were attended by courteous and warm crew.

"My children nudged me to organize more trips to Nairobi using the SGR passenger train," said Mavundo.


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