My journey from Nairobi to Mombasa began at the old Nairobi Railway Station. I took a shuttle to the SGR Terminus in Syokimau. The services were very professional and not much time was wasted in the city traffic, probably because it was 7 o’clock in the morning, a time when most traffic is headed towards the city. It took around 45 minutes to the Syokimau Terminus. Not bad at all.
The SGR Terminus
The Nairobi SGR terminus is definitely impressive! It is very modern, just like an international airport. The Mombasa Terminus is equally modern. The staff are courteous and professional, the place clean and spacious. Mpesa services are not yet incorporated into the payment systems so make sure to have the cash to purchase your ticket.
There is no choosing of seats so be prepared to settle wherever you find yourself. If you are travelling in a group, you might find yourselves allocated different seats. There was a hitch with the restrooms at the terminus that morning. There was no water in the waiting area toilets, which was a big inconvenience.
The management of the crowds still needs some working on. Having a thousand people preparing to board the train at the same time is definitely quite challenging.The train left the Nairobi terminus at exactly 9.00 a.m. I used economy class and it was ok. Soothing music was playing in the background.
Snacks are sold on board. This is an area that could do with improvement. The service is not well organized and it is like hawking. Varieties are ok though they could still be improved further though the prices are a bit on the higher side. If nothing is done to streamline this service, passengers will be carrying their own snacks from home and that is bound to get messy.
The best treat of the journey is the chance to see wild animals along the way. I enjoyed seeing wildebeest, ostrich, zebras and gazelles at the Nairobi National Park. Tsavo National Park boasts a high population of elephants and travellers do get to see tens or sometimes hundreds of elephants, among other animals. The elephants definitely made my trip enjoyable.
Do You Get to Save Time By Choosing SGR?
The 472-kilometre journey between Nairobi and Mombasa terminus takes slightly less than 5 hours. The journey is really smooth, right from the take-off. If you usually experience anxiety while an aircraft is taking off, you will love SGR. It will be difficult to notice that the train has actually left the station. It is also difficult to believe that the train is cruising at 120 km/h, because it is really smooth and quiet.
Can you leave Nairobi in the morning and execute your businesses in Mombasa the same day? Arrival time either way falls in the afternoon, a time when traffic to the city is busy.
The road from the Mombasa SGR Terminus at Miritini to the city is not yet done. This is one part of the journey you will not enjoy at all. A bus trip takes anything from one to two hours, putting into consideration the time taken at the station before actually leaving. That puts arrival time in the city at around 4.00 p.m. In other words, it still takes an entire day to commute from home to either Nairobi or Mombasa city.
Commuting from Syokimau Terminus to the Nairobi City Centre on the return journey was easy. The old train was in operation and took around 45 minutes to the Nairobi Railway Station. No issues with traffic on Mombasa Road.
It is wise to devote an entire day to travelling so that you do not get disappointed. Just relax and enjoy the train ride but don’t be under pressure to beat deadlines such as getting to some offices before 5.00 p.m. Allocate such tasks to the day after your travel.
Tips to Make Your SGR Ride Smooth and Enjoyable
1. Be at the station for the journey to the terminus early. Whether at the Nairobi Railway Station or its equivalent on the Mombasa side, be there latest 7.00 a.m. If you are travelling from the Mombasa side, be there earlier, considering that the road to the Miritini Terminus is still being done, leading to delays.
2.Travel light. Avoid carrying too many bags or large suitcases. The storage on board the train is similar to that on the inside of a bus so be reasonable with your baggage.
3. Carry a little snack of your choice such as nuts and juice. It can take a while to buy something to bite on board the train and there is no stopping on the way to purchase anything.
4. Allocate 2 hours to connecting from the station of arrival to the city center and that way you will not get stressed should you find yourself stuck in traffic either on Mombasa Road in Nairobi or at Makupa Causeway.
5. Carry cash for purchasing the ticket, for snacks on board the train and for connecting to and from the terminus both ways. Mpesa will not serve you for those purposes.
6. Carry a good camera so that you can capture wildlife and beautiful sceneries along the way.
This article is written by Susan Catherine Keter, network marketing professional, life coach, personal development mentor, freelancer and blogger.