SGR passengers banned from carrying own food and drinks

From left (front): Mombasa Governor Hassan
From left (front): Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho, Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i and his Transport counterpart James Macharia during a press conference after talks with political leaders and transport stakeholders at Harambee House in Nairobi on October 3, 2019. PHOTO | DIANA NGILA  

Passengers using fast trains operating between Nairobi and Mombasa are set to lose the freedom to bring food and drinks from outside, the Kenya Railways has said.

Under the new changes set to take effect “soon”, passengers travelling on the standard gauge railway (SGR) will no longer be allowed to carry packed food and drinks as they have done since the Madaraka Express train was launched in June 2017.

Just like the promotional prices, which lapsed several months back, travellers will have to buy food and drinks on offer inside the coaches by NAS Airport Services. NAS is a local subsidiary of Servair, the third-largest airline catering and logistics business globally.

“Kenya Railways wishes to remind our passengers and customers that alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages and cooked food are strictly prohibited into the termini and stations.

“Those items will be confiscated at security checkpoints at the termini and train stations. Please note that items once confiscated will not be repossessed,” said the firm in a public notice yesterday.


NAS, which is associated with politically connected families in Kenya is the official Kenya Airways caterer and also holds a franchise licence for US-based fast-food chain Burger King.

Kenya Railways has been working with NAS to offer catering services inside the Madaraka Express train, which has been operating for the last two years.

The contract to offer catering services by NAS inside SGR was first entered into in 2017.

It was signed between Kenya Railways and China Road and Bridge Corporation after the launch of the Nairobi-Mombasa train service. The deal sealed NAS Airports Services operations in Kenya.

Official data shows that SGR train services generated sales of Sh5.7 billion in its first year of operation against the annual operation costs estimated at Sh12 billion.

Freight services, which started in January 2018, generated Sh4 billion in the year to December, the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics figures indicate.

The data show China Communications Construction Company, the operator, sold slightly more than 1.66 million tickets, earning Sh1.61 billion in revenue during the year.