Travel: How To Book The SGR Madaraka Express Train


The SGR, Standard Gauge Railway is a railway line that connects two major cities in Kenya that is Nairobi and Mombasa. It is operated by the Kenya Railways Corporation and there are two trains that run making two round-trips a day. The two SGR trains include the Madaraka Express and the inter-county train.

Like its name, the Madaraka Express does not make a stop during the course of the journey and takes 5 hours to reach its destination. The inter-county passenger train, on the other hand, makes a stop at respective stations including  Athi River, Email, Kibwezi, Mtito Andei, Miasenyi and Mariakani county stations. The train takes 5 hours 55 minutes to reach its destination and if you would like to see the exact schedule, click here to find out more on arrival and departure times, between Mombasa and Nairobi and vice versa.

When it comes to booking, there are three options.

  1. Either going to the station of departure and booking manually,
  2. Booking online through the website or
  3. Dialling the USSD code (*639#) and following the prompts. This service is available 24/7 and you can buy a maximum of 5 tickets in one transaction. You can book 7 days in advance and a return ticket as long as it is within 7 days window period.

The advance ticket-booking window is 30 days, your options depending on availability.  You can book the train 30 days to the date of travel, any day in between the 30th day and the date of travel or on the date of travel itself. For group bookings, use these contacts to make your reservation. You can also opt to visit the respective terminus any day between 6.30 AM to 4.00 PM.

After you have received confirmation (a text/email with a unique code pertaining to your booking), pay for your ticket through Mpesa. Similar rates apply if you are purchasing the ticket over the counter. In this case, you will find the pay bill number in use at the station, to facilitate your purchase.

After completing the purchase, you will get an Mpesa confirmation and account number. This information will be useful when printing out your ticket at the terminus on the day of travel or any day at your convenience.

For international travellers with no Mpesa here’s a Kenyan alternative method you can use to buy a ticket.

Below are the rates for the tickets depending on the coach type you prefer and the age of the traveller.

Age0-3yrs3-11 yearsAdults
First class  0KSH 1500 per childKSH 3000 per person
Economy Class0KSH 500 per childKSH 1000 per person

On the day of departure, it is recommended you arrive at the terminus an hour before your departure time to avoid missing the train due to delays at the security check. In Nairobi, the main terminus is at Syokimau while in Mombasa its at Miritini.

Take note of these ticketing terms and conditions to avoid any possible delays at the terminus.

However, in case you miss a train you are entitled to 80% of your ticket fee as refund only if you had alerted the train attendants before the train left. Note that refunds are not issued after the journey has commenced or if the ticket is lost/damaged. You are also required to keep your ticket safely throughout the journey for it serves as your only proof of the right to be in that particular train.

The SGR train hosts 1260 passengers with cabin crew services and other essentials like comfortable seats, and a place to charge your phone for first class travellers. It is currently the only direct train that ferries passengers between Nairobi and Mombasa.

When it comes to travelling Here’s what you need to know when you’re travelling with a big family.

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