Lagos to Ibadan rail: Proof of pudding is in the eating – Newstrends
Connect with us

Railway

Lagos to Ibadan rail: Proof of pudding is in the eating

Published

on

 

Life is gradually returning to the rail track leading from Lagos to Ibadan, the Oyo State capital. PAUL ADE-ADELEYE shares his experience

After much talk, some animosity and a burst of determination, the Lagos to Ibadan rail line finally kicked off activities low-key on December 7. Although its maiden trip was mocked for recording generally low patronage, the fault did not lie with the quality of service on offer; neither did it lie, contrary to popular opinion, with the fare of commuting. A return journey to and from Ibadan last week Wednesday, turned out to be exhilarating.

  • Train host/hostesses

Everyone has said it, so it is no secret that none of the train stations on the 156km route is complete at the moment. The closest to completion is the Lagos terminal at Ebute Metta in Lagos Mainland. When completed, the terminal has been touted to match international standards. A cursory glance at the level of work ongoing at the station seems to point to the absence of any fib on the part of those who believe that the new terminal will be of high quality. Awaiting the comfort of the new terminal, however, Lagos District Manager of the Nigeria Railway Corporation (NRC), Jerry Oche, took it upon himself to ensure that travellers were well treated.

Inviting the first five travellers to arrive at the Lagos Station to the conference room of the old terminal last Wednesday, the manager fielded questions and even served drinks, apologising that the waiting area and ticketing booth were not ready. One traveller wondered aloud why there was little publicity concerning how the train would work, especially as most travellers simply had to grope their way through the procedure leading up to boarding the train. Mr Oche, an engineer, however, revealed that the absence of fanfare and advertorial that would serve as official publicity for the commencement of the train service was deliberate.

Officially, the train service has not been commissioned. This will be done by President Buhari sometime in January by which time it is hoped the project would have been completed. Meanwhile, the bit-part launching of the train service means that with current operations, the train can sit as many as 580 people. At the moment, especially since the station is not completely ready and there is no secure waiting area, it may be difficult to manage such a number. Oche is reluctant to kick-start operations at full capacity when the facilities to manage such numbers are not yet completely available. For now, he appears content to let the train service announce itself, a strategy that appears to be yielding dividends.

 

The district manager is additionally confident that this can be a successful strategy because the train service had conducted a free trial from Iju to Ibadan and only the COVID-19 pandemic stopped the service. When the trial started, they recorded low turnout but soon the numbers skyrocketed and maximum patronage was recorded at every journey.

Facilities

The reporter arrived at the train station with the intent of travelling humbly. Humility must be understood to mean economy class. However, when the booking clerk would ask what class of commuting the reporter wanted, a strange whim caused the reporter to opt for first class.

  • The passage

The first-class coach, which seats 24 passengers, costs N6,000; the business class coach, which seats 56 passengers, costs N5,000; while the economy coaches cost N3,000 for the 68-seater coach and N2, 000 for the 88-seater coach.

Luxury is an addictive spirit, so let it suffice to say that the return journey was first class also. Whatever the financial effects of this deluxe treatment of self, the devil may care but the reporter does not. To purchase a train ticket, the prospective commuter must present some form of identification – no doubt for security purposes.

Despite the incompleteness of the rail station, the manager was keen on security. He mandated that only travellers were to be on the ramp leading up to the train during boarding hours. There are also contracted security personnel belonging to several paramilitary bodies who embark on every train ride for the safety of the passengers. No staffer without business on the train was to be in the vicinity. At the entrance of the train, courteous staff (a welcome improvement in Nigeria) greeted the passengers, and the train not to be outdone, also breathed a cheeky draught of cold air. The trip, this implied, would be fully air-conditioned. The train was not complaining, the employees were not, and the passengers certainly were not. That consensus being reached, the reporter did not begrudge the train hostess leading him to the first class session – he paid for it anyway. There were sinks on the train, restrooms and a mini-bar from which nourishment was to be served for the pleasure of travellers.

Cross-checking this array of amenities with a contact in the United Kingdom confirmed that the regular metro trains do not offer this luxury. Only the long-distance trains, which operate between counties, do. While the economy and business class carriages looked comfortable enough, the reporter cannot say much for them, having only passed through. The first-class coach, however, was what it promised. The seats had trays, which could be summoned or neatly tucked away according to the traveller’s preference. The seats could also be rotated a full 360 degrees should the traveller not enjoy the sensation of being in reverse as the train rolls along. Trains, you see, hardly turn. There are engines at both ends, which propel the train depending on the train’s direction, and so the traveller is either travelling backward or forward.

 

  • Interior of the First Class coach

At exactly 4 pm, the train departed the station. The passengers had been warned that the trip would last 2:41 hours. There are stations in Agege, Alagbado, Kajola, Abeokuta, Papalanto, Olodo, Omi Adio and finally Moniya, Ibadan, but for now, only the Abeokuta station is a stopping station. The stop was for only five minutes, and, as promised, at exactly 6:41, the train rolled into the Ibadan station. Similarly, the next morning, the train departed Ibadan by exactly 8 am and was in Ebute Metta at exactly 10:41 am. At maximum speed, the train is expected to eat up the distance at the rate of 150km/hr. The precision was encouraging for it meant a fellow could work his schedule around the train schedule. Mr Oche noted that when the train service became fully operational, it could make as many as 16 trips daily with a train departing and arriving every other hour. The journey could have been shorter, but people trading on the rail lines have forced the train to virtually crawl through Lagos, picking up speed from Alagbado station.

Verdict

For the current prices, the Lagos-Ibadan rail service is worth the expenditure. As noted by many analysts, the advantages floor whatever financial inconvenience the traveller may experience. For N2,500, the commuter who has chosen economy class will get more than double the comfort that a traveller by road would hope to enjoy in public transport. The traveller again enjoys additional guarantee that they will arrive at their destination in one piece and at a pre-arranged time. The business class traveller, for only N5,000, will enjoy more exclusivity and can make use of a laptop or other such device as may be reasonably sized for their work. It is presumed that the first-class passenger has called congress in his mind and deliberated on what premium can be placed on comfort and luxury in travelling. Honeymooners or those who do not like crowded spaces are advised to travel first class. It offers comforts that even luxurious private vehicles struggle to match.

The fear, as with many other things in Nigeria, is the maintenance culture. It was lack of proper maintenance and farsightedness that led to the decline of the railway system which the British bequeathed. The NRC must be careful not to rest on its oars but seek new and better ways to innovate rail travel, for only by so doing can the current pace be sustained and evenly matched. The District Manager predicts that by February, the stations will be completed. It is difficult to see how that is possible.

-The Nation

Railway

NRC cancels first Abuja-Kaduna Thursday train after Wednesday derailment 

Published

on

NRC cancels first Abuja-Kaduna Thursday train after Wednesday derailment 

…says vandals responsible

Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) has cancelled its first Abuja-Kaduna Thursday train (today) scheduled to move by 8am after it experienced a derailment on the route on Wednesday.

It announced this on Wednesday evening in a statement issued by its Deputy Director of the Public Relations Department, Yakub Mahmood, while giving an update on the derailment.

The Abuja-Kaduna train AK3 had reportedly derailed at the Asham Railway Station about 30 minutes after leaving Kubwa, Abuja.

Mahmood said, “For operational reasons, the first train from Kaduna (Rigasa) scheduled for 08.00 hours will be cancelled on Thursday 6th June, 2024 only, while all other train services will run as scheduled.

“NRC management deeply regrets the inconveniences that this technical hitch might have caused our esteemed passengers.”

The derailment on Wednesday, according to Director of Public Affairs and Consumer Protection, Nigerian Safety Investigation Bureau (NSIB), Bimbo Olawumi, occurred at 3:52pm, shortly after the passenger train departed the Kubwa station, Abuja, the nation’s capital.

Mahmood in his statement said, “The passengers on board were safely returned to Abuja (Idu).”

He added that the tickets of passengers who could not use the train would remain valid for a subsequent journey within two weeks.

The NRC spokesman said, “This minor hitch is attributed to the removal of track fastening clips by vandals.

“However, the NRC management remains resolute towards ensuring the safety of our valued passengers in the entire system.”

Continue Reading

Railway

Apprehension as passengers train derails in Kaduna

Published

on

JUST-IN: Abuja-Kaduna train terails, passengers stranded

A passenger train on Sunday derailed at Jere along the popular Abuja-Kaduna route, leaving the travellers stranded in the mountainous area.

The train was said to have left Kaduna at 8.05am heading for Abuja but developed fault about an hour later and stopped at Jere.

It was not immediately clear how many passengers were inside the train.

It was however learnt that more armed security personnel had been mobilised to the area in addition to those on the train to allay the fears of the passengers and their family members.

Senator Shehu Sani, in an alert raised on his verified X handle, stated, “A Kaduna morning train derails near Jere but engineers are attending to it.”

Workers of the Nigerian Railway Corporation have been drafted to the spot to repair the train, with about three carriages off the tracks.

Security personnel, including soldiers and police officers, are also on the spoke to keep watch over the passengers and the train.

Continue Reading

Railway

Finally, Port Harcourt-Aba train service begins with four-day free ride

Published

on

Finally, Port Harcourt-Aba train service begins with four-day free ride

A four-day free train ride from Port Harcourt in Rivers State to Aba, Abia State will begin today, May 1, signifying commencement of rail service along the 62-kilometre route.
This is coming a month after the train operation on the rehabilitated narrow gauge track was initially meant to start.
Minister of Transportation, Senator Saidu Alkali, inaugurated the rail service in Port Harcourt on Tuesday.

Alkali said the project was part of the rehabilitation of 1,443km Port Harcourt to Maiduguri narrow gauge rail line.

He said that the Port Harcourt to Aba section of the project was the initial part of the Eastern narrow-gauge railway, aiming to connect five geopolitical zones of the country.

He said, “The Federal Government is pleased to inaugurate the train service from Port Harcourt to Aba, a key priority area of President Bola Tinubu’s administration.
“We are grateful to God for the completion of the Port Harcourt to Aba section, which will bring succour to the people.
“The Eastern narrow gauge covers five geo-political zones of the country, including South-South, South-East, North-Central, North- West, and North-East,” he said.
Aba to Enugu rail is next
Alkali said following the completion of the first segment and the start of commercial operations of the rail service, the Federal Government would soon commence the construction of the Aba to Enugu rail project, linking the two states together.
He added that his ministry was working with investors to ensure the conversion of the locomotive across the country from diesel to Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) to reduce transportation costs further.
“Shortly, we will take a train ride from Port Harcourt to Aba, which means that from today, passenger train service has commenced.
“We will continue the project from Aba to Enugu and from Port Harcourt to both Onne and Port Harcourt seaports for freight services.
“The ministry is currently in discussion with an investor to convert our locomotive from diesel to Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) to reduce transportation costs further,” he said.
The minister assured Nigerians that arrangements were being made with security agencies to ensure adequate security along the rail routes.
He also announced free train rides from Port Harcourt to Aba between May 1 to May 4.
“The train will depart from Port Harcourt to Aba at 8am daily, while it will leave Aba to Port Harcourt at 3pm daily.
“Full commercial operations will resume on May 7, 2024,” he said.

Continue Reading

Trending