Better late than never. This June I finally used the famous Madaraka Express. After several failed attempts last year. This time I knew better, booked my ticket early and during off peak timings. This was also a great decision as the train wasn’t super full and we got a sitting compartment to ourselves(my bestie and I). The train has a side with 4 seats and the other with 6 seats. Both have a table that unfortunately, it is not at the center hence it only serves the people on the window seat for the 6 seater. The leg room is also wanting. Its one of the few times I thank God I am short.The train is generally clean with clear instructions of where the bins are and all the other amenities.
The package Madaraka Express also known as SGR, the train option from Nairobi to several counties with the last destination in Mombasa Terminus. There are about 6 terminus( I lost count of the ones I actually saw somewhere between the stories, selfies and laughs). The SGR has 2 options which are all the same price from Nairobi – Mombasa terminus which is 1000KES for a regular class and 3000KES for the 1st class which a yet to experience. The morning train is the inter-county which allows anyone to board/alight at any terminus. The afternoon train is n express train and arrives the final destination an hour earlier.
The few amazing take homes from this:
- The ‘old’ station is only for taking the train to the terminus at Syokimau which only operates at 6am and 1pm everyday. In case of any inquires call the numbers provided on the website,email or visit Syokimau. So I booked the wrong return tickets however we got sorted so easily. An amendment ticket costs an extra 200KES.
- The security is amazing, loved how cautious they are. I had this super huge chain that looked like a weapon through the xray machines and I was made to open my bags twice. That was enough hustle just decided to wear it, to avoid all the opening and closing of bags.
- I love how professional the guards are. Not your normal egotistic Kenyan guards.
- The whole station is just amazing, clean, organised. The standards set there should go across all the transport systems.
- Time keeping is on point. This rather shocked me. They are not a second late so you actually need to be there 1 hour earlier due to the checks and all the other formalities.
- Snacks are on sell they can be a bit overpriced and not much of a variety. If you can carry your own. Yes alcohol is allowed on board.
- Easy and straight forward online booking system
Things I would like to see improved:
- Actual help from the helpline – The helplines/24 hour customer care lines, most of the numbers provided dont work and the ones that do aren’t picked up.
- The ability to choose your seat while booking – The portal just generates numbers for you as you pay. The worst thing is you can buy 2 tickets with consecutive numbers but sit separately.
With that said I really hope they will maintain the trains as it’s a fast and relatively affordable means of transport if you are lucky enough you might get to enjoy a game drive on the way, as you pass through the Tsavo (the home of elephants). You can also get a variety of vehicles at all the terminus for Nairobi it would be best to request for an Uber or a taxify. Then for Mombasa they are so many means to pick from depending on where you are going. We took a 10 seater vehicle ( very comfortable) for 500KES to Diani as opposed to the 4500 – 5300KES the uber, taxify and regular cabs were charging. Am glad I was very impressed even a year later.