Unbelievable: The SGR Passenger Coaches Are Worse Than a Village Matatu

January 31, 2017

Sometimes you try to defend the Jubilee government and end up looking like a fool. Hundreds of billions of Shillings have been spent on the Standard Gauge Railway, and it was expected that at the bare minimum, the journey will be comfortable.

Most Kenyans were unimpressed by the look of the locomotives, but we were told what matters is the functionality not aesthetics. We disagreed but played ball, hoping the passenger coaches will at least be desirable.

How wrong were we.

The first batch of the passenger locomotives and coaches was offloaded last week, and Kenyans have expressed collective disappointment.

Kenya Railways posted a walk-through video and I have no words.

Let’s start with the economy class, i.e. the lowest class.

There’s literally nothing to report here. The seats are narrow and facing each other. One side has 2 and the other 3… good luck squeezing yourself in the middle seat. There’s a detachable table to be shared by 4 people. No charging port and basically by rough estimate, you’ll need a few hours of rest after travelling on that thing. Which beats the point of not taking a comfortable bus in the first place.

There is no armrest, which really should be the bare minimum of long distance travel.

Here’s the clip of the economy class. You can tell the guide ran out of ‘features’ to tell us of, forcing him to start talking about the view and the notification screens.

By comparison, this is what the economy class in a long distance train looks like elsewhere. And these are not even the France and Germanys of the world… just some middle income Asian countries.

Now comes the ‘First Class’. This is where the bigger joke is. What they are calling first class does not even deserve to be called ‘economy class’.

The only addition is the armrest and charging socket (one).

I’m deliberately ignoring the 360 degree rotating seats for 2 reasons. The first is that you’ll need the consent of whoever is seated beside you (both seats rotate at once). The second is that you’ll need to agree with the guys behind on who needs their knees less. Because by rough estimates, 4 knees will be broken.

This is the most severe case of too little leg room I’ve ever seen on a ‘first class’ coach. Watch the clip.

Here are some of the other features of ‘first class’.

So, how does our first class compare to first classes from other countries?





Before you say that this is Kenya, a third world country, remember we have spent more than $3 billion on this. Much more than developed countries spend on some their lines.

But for the purpose of local comparisons, this is what they have in Modern Coast buses, first class coaches.

Spanish coach

Tahmeed Coach

Dreamline Express

Personally, I might make one trip out of curiosity, but that will be the end of me and the SGR.

And with the numerous cartels in this country, I have this gut feeling that someone is deliberately setting up SGR for failure.

The business class coaches are not in the country yet, but since we’ve already seen the trend, don’t expect anything impressive.

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