Kenyans will pay more to travel between Mombasa and Nairobi using the Standard Gauge Railway as government plans to nearly double the introductory fare between the cities starting from April.
Kenya Railways has a revealed the plan to increase the costs of the Madaraka Express fares to run a sustainable business and as a way of raising revenue to service the borrowed billions that facilitated the rail construction and acquisition of diesel-engine trains.
Travelling one way will now cost Ksh1, 200, which is nearly double the inaugural Ksh700. Passengers using taking the first class journey will, however, pay an unchanged fare of Ksh3 000 even as the struggles of the cargo section keep biting the agency.
The Exim Bank of China provided 85% of Ksh 327 billion used to build the SGR while the Government of Kenya only raised the 15% of the costs.
This trend follows the recent change in prices of maize floor that the government had just before elections subsidized to make the commodity affordable but it appears more commodities are on the upward price shift lane.
Due to the relatively lower fares on the SGR passenger trains, just before the festive season, according the railways authority, at least 2, 300 passengers could travel every day to and from the coast.
Atanas Maina, KRC managing director, said the current Ksh 700 fare was meant to be an introductory offer and aimed attracting more Kenyans to experience the service.
It appears KRC believes Kenyans would still choose the service notwithstanding the fare hike.
Most passenger service companies charge between Ksh 900 and Ksh 1,500 and a number of local flight operators have direct traffic between the two cities at not very high charges. This implies the railway might succumb to completion despite the government’s belief that it may remain immune to such market forces as a tamper on quality of service or its affordability.