Before travelling | During your journey

Getting around: by train

Manakara train
Madagascar Travel Guide

The train between Fianarantsoa and Manakara takes theoretically about 8 - 12 hours, but practically, it could take much longer. It is therefore risky to organise a tour around it, unless you are ready to skip the train ride at the worst case, in order to keep the schedule for the rest of the tour. If you are keen on train riding, certainly the trip to Manakara is well worth if you bring sufficient time and patience!
The train leaves Fianarantsoa train station Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays  at 7 am and gets back from Manakara to Fianarantsoa at 6:45 am on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. A single way ticket costs  25.000 Ar (around 10 US$ / 8,5 €) in a first class wagon. Travelling in second class is cheaper, but much less recommendable! Further 2.000 Ar are payable as reservation fee for advance bookings.
Ticket reservations for trips in the first class can be made by sending an e-mail to the railway company Fianarantsoa Cote Est (FCE Madagascar) seven days before departure: fce@blueline.mg. Bookings can also be made by phone (261-20-75-513-55) or even at the booking desk at Fianarantsoa train station. You have to reconfirm your ticket at least one day prior to departure. 

There are trains two days a week between Moramanga and Ambatondrazaka and between Moramanga and Ambila (extended one day a week to Tamatave). Between Tana and Moramanga and between Tana and Antsirabe there are no regular passenger trains, although tourist trains with the Micheline railcar operate when advertised (but not for local passengers!). You can find more and update information here:  www.madarail.mg