Kenya Railways to hike Madaraka Express train economy class fare from USD7 to USD12
According to Kenya Railways, the subsidised SGR train fare is not enough to meet the operational cost in the short term hence the hike.
Kenya Railways has announced that the promotional Sh700 ($7) fare on Madaraka Express between Nairobi and the coastal city of Mombasa will be withdrawn in the next two months.
Kenya Railways managing director Atanas Maina said Friday the charges could be adjusted to Sh1,200 ($12) after approvals by the Transport Ministry.
“We shall be announcing the rates in April once approved but will not exceed Sh1,200,” said Mr Maina in an interview with a local business daily.
The Sh3,000 ($30) fare for first class passenger on the train will however remain the same in the new fare regime.
“The government made a deliberate decision to charge low fare to allow Kenyans from all walks of life to test the service at inception stage so that they can judge for themselves the nature of the product we were introducing to the market.”
President Uhuru Kenyatta while officially launching the train services on May 31 fixed the fare at Sh700 ($7) for economy class ticket and Sh3,000 ($30) on first class ticket for passengers travelling from Nairobi to Mombasa.
This was a reduction of Sh200 ($2) from the initial Sh900 ($9) earlier proposed by Infrastructure Cabinet Secretary James Macharia.
The aim was to drive traffic in the Kenya’s biggest infrastructure project since independence funded by the Exim Bank of China.
This has forced taxpayers to top up the fare to pay the loan and meet the operational costs of the new rail constructed by China Road and Bridge Corporation.
The National Treasury allocated Sh15.5 billion to upgrade the SGR commercial operations before its launch last June.
The 472 km SGR railway line between Mombasa and Nairobi was constructed at a cost of Sh327 billion co-financed through commercial and semi-concessional loans from China and the Kenyan government.
At Sh1200 ($12) however the fare will still be cheaper than using the road as buses charge between Sh1200 – Sh2500) not to mention the comfort and time commuters save since Madaraka Express takes four and half hours while buses take up to ten hours.
The news will never the less be a blow to ‘poor’ Kenyans who had gotten used to the cheap rides to Mombasa and vice versa.
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