Kenya’s Standard Gauge Railway fully booked, airfares soar as Christmas season beckons

Christmas Day at Pirates Beach
  • According to the booking register, the trains are fully booked between December 21 to 23 with only a few seats available on December 24.
  • Train tickets retail at Sh1000 ($10) for economy class coach and Sh3000 ($30) for first class coach.
  • Airlines have also increased fares from Nairobi to Mombasa ahead of Christmas.

If you have plans to travel to Kenya’s Coastal city of Mombasa over the Christmas season you might want to book your tickets now while the few remaining train tickets are still up for grabs.

The standard gauge railway (SGR) passenger train service between Nairobi and Mombasa is fully booked ahead of Christmas. According to the booking register, the trains are fully booked between December 21 to 23 with only a few seats available on December 24 and will likely be snapped up in the coming days.

“We are fully booked over the weekend heading to December 25. The bookings have come early after we changed the early reservation period to 60 days from the initial 30," said an official at Africa Star Railway Operations Company (Afristar), the operator of Madaraka Express.

Train tickets retailing at Sh1000 ($10) for economy class coach and Sh3000 ($30) for first class coach coupled with the fact that the train cuts the long arduous journey between Nairobi and Mombasa by half makes Madaraka Express not only ideal but too good to resist.

Madaraka Express has capacity for 1,260 passengers with 15 economy class and three first class coaches. It also comes with a luggage carrier with a total capacity of 70 tonnes.

So high is the demand for train tickets, the Chinese operator running the SGR service is planning to add additional coaches to meet the rising demand.

Kenyans have a tradition of heading to Mombasa over the Christmas season to let their hair down and enjoy the Sun, Sand and Sea and this year is not any different.

Unlucky holidays who will miss the train will have to contend with expensive alternatives like road and air travel.

Airlines have also increased fares from Nairobi to Mombasa ahead of Christmas on early bookings and the ticker prices are expected to rise further in coming days.

Bus owners are also set to make a killing over the Christmas season charging commuters an arm and a leg to get them to Mombasa.

Hoteliers at Mombasa are also set to be a happy lot and are set to record booming business catering for the high number of holidaymakers out to have a time of themselves and user the new year, 2020.

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