13 December 2017

Madaraka Express, an amazing way to travel between Mombasa and Nairobi!

Brand new terminus just outside Mombasa, at Miritini

This was my third time to take the train between Nairobi and Mombasa. The first trip in 2010 was with Ryan; it was supposed to take 12 hours, but took 20 hours. My second time, in 2015, was with Hannah; that trip took 29 long hours!

This trip, on a brand new track and with brand new equipment, only took 5.5 hours. We left the terminus at precisely the stated time. The entire ride was comfortable and smooth.

Boarding platform at the Mombasa terminus (technically at Miritini, just outside of Mombasa)

This new train, christened the Madaraka Express, was flagged off on 1 June 2017 by President Uhuru Kenyatta. The initial agreement was made in 2009 by then president Mwai Kibaki. Madaraka Day is celebrated on June 1st, in recognition of Kenya attaining self-rule in 1963. Madaraka is Swahili for 'freedom'.

The new track and infrastructure was built - and 90% funded - by a Chinese company (the same one developing many of Kenya's roads). The train engines, cars, and much of the construction materials were imported from China. A Chinese and an Australian company will operate and supervise the business for the next 10 years. At that time, it will be handed over to the government of Kenya.

The Madaraka Express and new cargo trains are the largest infrastructure project in Kenya since her independence.

I spent most of my time in the dining car, having a meal and enjoying the scenery. I also chatted with these two proud employees.

I met Teressa the night before at the Airbnb where I stayed in Mombassa. We spent much of the train trip together.

Part of the time, we paralleled the highway between Mombasa and Nairobi.

I  always love Baobab trees and Sisal plantations!

Once we alighted at the Nairobi terminus (in Syokimau), we simply walked from one platform to another and boarded the local commuter train. For 50 cents, we were conveniently taken to Railways station in Nairobi city center, a ride of 30 minutes. From there, I hopped on a bus to my home at Ngong town.

The next phase (already in progress) is a track from Nairobi to the border with Uganda, at Malaba. It will pass by Narok, Naivasha, and Kisumu.

From Malaba, cargo trains will soon travel on to Kampala, Uganda and Kigali, Rwanda. This will allow easier transportation of imports and exports, opening up these two land-locked countries.

No comments: