Passengers travelling on the Madaraka Express will soon be able to book their tickets 30 days in advance following an adjustment on the previous 14 days advance ticket booking window. The change comes into effect as from January 1, 2018, and represents further progress on the raft of measures that Kenya Railways and the Madaraka Express operator, CRBC, have taken to improve the service since operations commenced in June, 2017.
In his communiqué to Media Houses, Kenya Railways Managing Director Mr. Atanas Maina said that the change is geared towards streamlining the service, meeting the growing travel demands and improving the customer experience. He reiterated that Kenya Railways is committed to continuously identifying and instituting measures that will meet the demands of the ever increasing customer base on the service.
Travelers on the Madaraka Express Passenger Service can purchase a ticket by dialing *639# on a Safaricom line, follow outlined steps as prompted by the system and pay by M-pesa. The USSD payment solution enables one to check availability of tickets on a particular date and allows one to book up to a maximum of 5 people in one transaction. Tickets can also be purchased over the counters at the respective departing stations. As a result of the adjustment in the advance ticket booking window, group bookings will now be done 32 days to the travel date and not 16 days as has been.
The service which has been in operation for seven months has proved to be quite popular with travelers especially during the festive season, with the train being fully booked during this period. To date, approximately 660,106 passengers have ridden on the train which operates between Mombasa and Nairobi while making seven stops in the counties traversed by the Standard Gauge Railway line.
Additionally, Kenya Railways recently commissioned the upgraded Inland Container Depot in Embakasi, Nairobi and is primed to officially commence transportation of freight in January. The Inland Container Depot is now under the management of the Kenya Ports Authority who will oversee operations at the facility following the successful completion of constructionand handover by the China Communications Construction Company (CCCC). It incorporates a One-stop Centre which houses representatives of Rwanda, Uganda, Burundi and Kenya Revenue Authorities who will clear the goods destined for the various destinations and that will leave the Port of Mombasa before being cleared.
The freight service will be available round the clock and customers will pay $ 500 and $ 700 to transport a 20 ft and 40 ft container respectively. These charges exclude the last mile transportation costs but are inclusive of terminal placement charges with all loaded cargo charged at gross weight. Domestic traffic will charged in local currency whereas transit or Inland Container Depot traffic will be charged in US Dollars. The minimum chargeable distance for all types of goods for up and down direction is 300 kilometres.