Madaraka Express train tickets will from next week display the name and identity card number of passengers in the attempts to weed out middlemen.
According to Kenya Railways managing director Atanas Maina, the move is aimed at kicking middlemen out of the ticketing business.
He says, “Since June, middlemen have been buying tickets in bulk and selling them to passengers outside train stations in Mombasa and Nairobi. They have been buying tickets at a normal price of Sh700 and selling at them at Sh1,000 and above, thereby creating artificial shortages.
The MD says, “We have now customised the system and effective 8th August, tickets will bear the name and identity card or passport details of the passengers and will not be transferable. This will enhance the requisite security of all passengers and curtail the irregular sale of tickets by middlemen.”
The Middlemen have continued to buy Madaraka Express tickets and selling them outside train terminus, causing an artificial shortage of the travel documents.
The racket has been uncovered just days after five suspects were charged before a Mombasa court on Monday with the sale of Madaraka Express train tickets without permission from Kenya Railways.
“We are configuring the system to have more security features such as name and identification numbers. While we are working on it, don’t buy a ticket from any middleman,” said Kenya Railways managing director Atanas Maina.
Since June, passengers on Madaraka Express train travelling between Mombasa and Nairobi have been paying their fares via M-Pesa, a move which was expected to remove the hurdle that had opened the ticketing business to middlemen.
Kenya Railways had reached a deal with Safaricom for nine M-Pesa pay bill numbers to allow travellers to buy tickets from their mobile phones.
Unfortunately, this has proved unreliable as passengers must book at least two days in advance to be sure of getting a seat.
They must also present themselves in person at the terminus to pick their tickets an exercise that costs averagely Sh400 if one is commuting via public means to the terminus and back to his residence.
Previously, passengers could only book by paying cash at the ticketing offices in Nairobi or Mombasa terminus.
The ticket features a travel date and time but no name. They also contain travel class, carriage and seat numbers.
An economy class ticket goes at Sh700 while first class ticket goes for Sh3,000.
The train has become popular with passengers due to its low promotional prices, speed, and reliability, which has adversely affected buses operating on the route.
Buses plying the route spend at least eight hours on the road and charge between Sh900 and Sh2, 500 for the journey.