A beginner’s complete guide to using Madaraka Express
As Kenyans continue to soak in the Standard Gauge Railway craze, majority still have questions touching on the use of the Madaraka Express train.
Where are the termini? How do you access the termini? What’s the time of departure? How much is the fare? These are some of the questions that people wanted answered.
So here is the complete guide to using the new train.
Time of departure
There are two trains currently operational on the line. One leaves Nairobi at 9am while the other leaves Mombasa at the same time daily.
It will take a maximum of four and half hours to reach your destination, compared to about nine hours by bus. A similar ride on the now defunct meter-gauge railway took between 12 and 24 hours.
Location of the Nairobi terminus
Those travelling to Mombasa from Nairobi can catch the Madaraka Express at the Nairobi terminus in Syokimau, 20 kilometers away from the CBD. Nairobi’s is the mainstream and passengers terminal. It will also be a locomotive maintenance depot for vehicles, wagons and coaches.
How to get there
In case you have no idea how to get to the terminus, relax. The SGR has teamed up with Kenya Railways to conveniently ferry passengers on time to the terminus.
Every day at 7am, a train departs Nairobi Central Station Railways and takes the passengers to the Syokimau terminus. The same train picks passengers arriving from Mombasa at 1.30pm and drops them at the Nairobi Central Station.
Location of the Mombasa terminus
Those from Mombasa to Nairobi can catch the Madaraka Express at Miritini in Mombasa County, some 11 kilometers away from the Mombasa CBD.
How to get there
In Mombasa, there is a service where passengers are picked at the old Mombasa railway station on Mijikenda Street and transported to the Mombasa terminus.
The trains also offer subsequent schedules at county passenger stations which have stops at seven intermediate stations; Mariakani, Maisenyi, Voi, Mtito Andei, Kibwezi, Emali, and Athi River. In both instances, you can also find your way to the termini.
How to buy a ticket
The tickets are purchased at respective Nairobi and Mombasa railway termini. You can physically go to the respective terminus and pay in cash.
Kenya Railways is also accepting payments via M-pesa. All you need to do is; Go to Lipa na M-pesa, Select Paybill, Enter 809888 as the pay bill number and “ticket” as the account number.
However, one still needs to be at the station physically to do this for the purpose of booking a seat until the online platform is officially launched.
Can you show up, buy a ticket and travel same day?
Passengers are advised to book tickets four days to the day of travel to avoid any inconveniences.
It costs Sh700 to travel in economy class from Nairobi to Mombasa and vice versa, while those who can afford first class facilities will have to part with Sh3,000.
Children below three years travel for free; while those between 3-11 years pay half price, those above 11 years pay full price. Fares for the county train services depend on the distance between particular stations. For instance, a passenger travelling from Mombasa to Mariakani will pay Sh50. A traveler to Athi River from Nairobi will pay the same amount.
There is an advance train booking and seat reservation mode. The rates for advance tickets go for Sh1,300 for economy and Sh3,500 for first class. Children’s rates are the same.
To request for an advance ticket, you need to fill a form detailing your basic personal information, after which a scanned copy will be emailed to you in advance and the tickets delivered to you on arrival or to your preferred destination.
The maximum luggage allowed per passenger is 30kg. The luggage should not measure more than 1.6 metres width, height and breadth.
Speed and passenger capacity
The train has a maximum speed of 120kph and a full capacity of 1,200 passengers per trip.
Each station on the Madaraka Express has been designed to blend in with the local environment; Nairobi is designed to resemble two locomotives approaching each other.
Athi River station is intended to mirror the nearby hills, while stripped Miasenyi station was inspired by Zebras.
The Mombasa terminus was designed to resemble waves and ripples in the waters radiating from the central tower. The platforms and track lines represent the ocean shores.