The 470-kilometer journey between Mombasa and Nairobi will cost approximately $30 for first-class tickets, up from $19, and $10 for economy class, up from $6. Kenya Railways pointed to rising global fuel prices as a factor for the fare hike.
The announcement followed Kenya’s central bank governor’s statement that the Kenyan shilling had been overvalued for years, resulting in an artificially strong exchange rate. President William Ruto recently sought a $1 billion loan from China to complete stalled infrastructure projects, despite Kenya’s record-high debt of $70 billion.
The increased train fares will take effect on January 1, 2024, affecting not only the Mombasa-Nairobi route but also commuter rail services in Nairobi and popular safari trains in Kisumu and Nanyuki.
The SGR, funded with $4.7 billion in loans from Chinese banks, began operations in 2017 but has struggled with low cargo service uptake. Economists suggest that the SGR needs cross-border expansion to connect to Uganda’s oil and Congo’s minerals to become financially sustainable.
Kenya’s growing public debt has led to austerity measures, including restrictions on foreign trips and budget cuts for government ministries. President Ruto has faced criticism for his own frequent foreign travels since taking office in September 2022.