Payment for Kenya’s modern train passenger service goes cashless

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A general view shows a train on the SGR line in Kimuka, Kenya, October 16, 2019./ VCG Photo
A general view shows a train on the SGR line in Kimuka, Kenya, October 16, 2019./ VCG Photo

Passengers using Kenya’s standard gauge railway (SGR) trains will from Sunday pay for the service using cashless means only, Kenya Railways said in a notice on Saturday.

The Chinese-built railway that has been in operation since 2017 has been using a hybrid payment system that involves cash, mobile money, and plastic money.

“As from August 1, the acceptable payment mode for your Madaraka Express train ticket will be debit/credit card and Mpesa,” said the corporation.

Since most of the tickets are bought online, the switch to exclusive cashless payments would not inconvenience travelers.

“The cash payments did not make sense since a majority of travelers book their tickets online and thus pay via mobile money. For me it doesn’t change anything,” said Beatrice Atieno, a frequent user of the service, adding that for the two years she has used the train to and from the capital Nairobi, she has never used cash.

Some 720,000 travelers used the SGR train in 2020, down from 1.59 million in 2019 due to COVID-19 disruption.

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