How to Book Madaraka Express Train Tickets Via USSD

Image by Micheal Khateli

Kenya Railways has announced that Kenyans can now book their Madaraka Express tickets via a simple USSD application. At the moment, the only other ways to get a ticket is by physically going to the train station or by using the call method which has been reported to frustrate a lot of people due to unanswered calls and wrong seat bookings.

The USSD method is meant to make it easier for all Kenyans to place their bookings since it can work across all types of phones including feature phones and “dumb” phones. Please note that this method only works with Safaricom subscribers.

Here’s how to book a Madaraka Express ticket via USSD:

  1. Ensure you have enough airtime as the service is not free. We recommend having at least Ksh.20 airtime before you start.
  2. We recommend you have enough funds on your M-Pesa account to facilitate the number of tickets you are purchasing.
  3. Dial *639# from your mobile phone.
  4. Follow the prompts to select your preferred date of travel, destination, cabin (First class or Standard) and other details such as official name and National ID number.
  5. After you have filled in all the required details, you will select the payment method. If you select M-Pesa, you will be prompted to input your M-Pesa PIN to confirm the payment.
  6. You will receive an SMS confirming your booking and a reference number.
  7. Keep this message safe as you will require your reference number to print your ticket at the station on the day of travel.
  8. You will also need your National ID to verify your identity.

Bookings can be made 7 days in advance and one can book up to 5 seats at a go. Through this method, customers can also cancel tickets they had booked (before the train departs), however, they will be charged 20-percent of the ticket price for the cancellation.

Well, we have been waiting for Kenya Railways to give us an online booking platform for what feels like ages now, instead, we now have a USSD based application, but we’re not complaining.

Read More: The Pain Kenyans Go Through to Book a Madaraka Express Train Trip


  1. Can i book for someone ? for instant a friend from another county visits me in Kenya and urgently wants to travel with the train. Why Safaricom users only ? what about your other MAJORITY Mombasa customers who boicoted Safaricom ?

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