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SGR passenger train fully booked ahead of festive season

The Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) passenger train service between Nairobi and Mombasa is fully booked a month before Christmas.

This means that holidaymakers who intend to spend the Christmas season at the coast will have to seek expensive alternatives like road and air travel.

The bookings register shows that the passenger train service is fully booked between December 21 to 23 with the few seats available on December 24 set to be snapped up in the coming days.

The bookings have come early after Africa Star Railway Operations Company (Afristar), the operator of Madaraka Express changed the early reservation period to 60 days from the initial 30.

This is set to boost bus companies and airlines, like Jambojet, as families look to enjoy the holiday at the coast.

Airlines have also increased fares from Nairobi to Mombasa as well as other coastal destinations like Lamu and Malindi ahead of Christmas on early bookings and the tickets are expected to rise further.

SGR economy class tickets cost Sh1,000 with first class tickets going for Sh3,000.

Also read: Tanzania SGR project threatens Mombasa port business

Children below three years are exempted from the charges, while those between 3-11 years pay half the price.

The trains have capacities of 1,260 passengers with 15 economy class and three first class coaches. Also available onboard are luggage carriers with capacities for 70 tonnes.

The rising number of travellers to the coast is a boon for hoteliers who expect visitor numbers to increase their revenue during this festive season.

Last month, KR announced a 50 percent fare hike for Nairobi to Mombasa SGR passengers starting January 1, 2024.

The fare review also affects passengers using the Nairobi commuter rail service and the Kisumu and Nanyuki safari trains.

In a statement, Kenya Railways management said passengers travelling from Nairobi to Mombasa will pay Sh1,500 (economy class) and Sh4,500 (first class) up from the current Sh1,000 (economy class) and Sh3,000 (first class).

“The increase is informed by changes in the energy and petroleum sector where prices of fuel have significantly increased thus affecting the cost of our operations,” the statement explained.

It added that passengers making advance purchases for the Madaraka Express passenger service will notice the adjusted fares starting on Wednesday.

Also read: Why you’ll now be required to be at SGR station at least an hour before departure