A Detailed Guide to using the SGR – My Experience
If you follow me on Instagram you know that I was recently on a mini-vacation at the coast(if you don’t you are missing out! Follow me) I did use the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) to travel to and from Mombasa. Here is everything you need to know about buying tickets, booking, and boarding the SGR.
Madaraka Express/ the SGR travels to and from Nairobi and Mombasa. It can accommodate up to 960 people and moves at a speed of 120 km/hr.
The train has two classes, Economy and First Class and leaves daily.
Express train charges:
Charges for First Class are ksh 3,000 ($30) and Economy Class ksh 1000 ($10)
Charges for children:
Below 3 Years : FREE
Age between 3 – 11 Years :
- First class : Half Ticket Fee
- Economy class : Half Ticket Fee
Above 11 Years :
- First class : Full Ticket Fee
- Economy class : Full Ticket Fee
Intercounty Rates: Check their website.
Booking was pretty easy, you can book online or purchase your ticket over the counter at any station/terminus. You can also call Kenya Railways to reserve a ticket. If you are a Safaricom subscriber, you can book your ticket via MPesa by dialing *639#.
If you book online, you have to print your ticket once you arrive at the station so do factor this in to avoid last-minute rushes. P.S. It’s best to arrive at the station an hour prior to the departure time.
There are two trains, an express train, and an inter-county train. The express train goes directly to Nairobi or Mombasa making only one stop at Mtito Andei.
The inter-county train makes stops at every terminus dropping and picking passengers off. It stops at Athi River, Emali, Kibwezi, Mtito Andei, Voi, Miasenyi, Mariakani, and finally Mombasa/Nairobi.
Nairobi – Mombasa: Departs at 3:30 pm and Arrives at Miritini terminus at 8:20 pm
Mombasa- Nairobi: Departs at 3:30 pm and Arrives at Syokimau terminus at 8:20 pm
The Inter-county train has different arrival times as it takes a longer time(owing to the various stops).
The SGR fills up pretty fast so it’s best to purchase a ticket three days or seven days prior to your desired travel date. I missed the morning train when travelling back to Nairobi and had to book the afternoon train instead- mind you I was booking three days in advance! The earlier you book the better and if you do know your departure, book a return ticket instead of a one-way ticket.
Things to Note about the SGR:
- Time- The train is punctual and leaves on time so best be there on time. Being at the station an hour prior is even better in order to go through security checks, relax and if you are anything like me, take photos. Factor in traffic as well, you know how bad traffic can get.
- Snacks- There are no free snacks offered on the train. You have to buy the snacks and there are no shops in the stations so it’s best to carry your own snacks.
- The seats do not recline so they are not the most comfortable to sleep on. However, five hours is not such a long time so you can definitely stay awake. You can carry a book, watch a movie, or converse with the other passengers though.
- As with every mode of public transport, you have to be mindful of others. Do unto others as you would like them to do to you.
There’s a commuter train to and from the old Nairobi Railway station that ferries people to and from Syokimau at Kshs 50. There is also transport from the Old Mombasa Railway station to Miritini at the same price.
At each of the stations, there are taxis and matatus. Again keeping time is extremely important. I missed the commuter train when travelling to Mombasa and had to rush to Syokimau.
All in all, it was a good experience travelling on the SGR. It is affordable and relatively fast.
Did I mention the amazing views from the train? We spotted elephants, zebras, and gazelles when passing through Tsavo National parks. So in addition, you get a free game “drive”.
The stations are a real piece of work too.
The seats are not comfortable.
The leg space is quite small.
The seats in economy face each other so if you are not comfortable with having people in your space, that might be an issue.
*A first class experience is different.
If you have any questions or comments about the SGR do drop a comment down below.
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Until next time, Bye!