- Millions of train tickets are sold every day around the world, without passenger details being imprinted on them
- Kenya Railways itself has several trains that travel from the old railway station in downtown Nairobi to the new one in Syokimau ferrying passengers every day to the station
- Importers and manufacturers will align their truck operations and schedules for delivery or collection at Syokimau or Miritini.
The entrance to the train station is now largely a bus stop for hundreds of matatus. The guard shaking his head before I spoke said it all; SGR tickets are not here at the old train station in Nairobi, you have to buy them at the Syokimau station.
A check of Twitter confirms the mess at Syokimau, where hundreds queue for tickets early in the morning for trips to Mombasa four days later, and most are disappointed when they sell out by 8 a.m.
It seems that middlemen buy some tickets to sell at a profit, and Kenya Railways is grappling with this as the main problem.
Even as Kenya Railways launches new stop services to enable the train serve traditional stations of the old tracks, at Mtito Andei and Voi from August 1, they also plan a new booking system and ticketing system that will involves printing names of passengers on tickets to curb-ticket re-sellers.
There was also a plan to charge foreigners a much higher rate than East African travellers, that was criticised by some, including Mohammed Hersi, the Chairman of the Kenya Tourism Federation. That plan has been set aside for now.
Yet, are expensive new tickets necessary? Millions of train tickets are sold every day around the world, without passenger details being imprinted on them, used for daily journeys and discarded afterwards.
No one looks at them; no officials check the identity of the train riders. The current system at Kenya Railways works. A cousin called and bought a ticket on the phone. She then went to the station, and printed her tickets at a machine and was out in ten minutes to say goodbye to her escorts before she went and boarded the train.
This is the same situation in dozens of capital around the world. The problem with Kenya Railways is that it is facing unprecedented demand in the short term
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Equally remarkable is the cottage industry that has built up around the Standard gauge railway. The efficiency of the train that leaves precisely on time is refreshing.
If you hang around a train station, you might see taxis rushing up, with passengers hefting luggage only to be pointed to the train in the distance, that left at the scheduled time.
Kenya Railways itself has several trains that travel from the old railway station in downtown Nairobi to the new one in Syokimau ferrying passengers every day to the station, and bypassing the unpredictable traffic on Mombasa Road.