The Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) on Friday resumed weekly Lagos-Kano passenger train service, five months after its suspension to facilitate the construction of the Lagos-Ibadan standard gauge rail line.
The long-distance train, which departed for Kano at exactly 12:23 pm, is billed to leave Kano on Monday and arrive Lagos on Wednesday for another trip on Friday.
Mr Jerry Oche, NRC, District Manager, Lagos State, disclosed that after the train departure at Iddo Terminus, no fewer than 200 commuters boarded the train with eight coaches comprising two air condition and six standard coaches.
Oche expressed satisfaction over the turnout of passengers for the Lagos-Kano train service, having been suspended before the total shutdown of all train operations on Sept. 30, 2019.
“The Lagos-Kano train, that just left, has no fewer than 200 passengers on board, in spite of the fact that we did not make noise about the commencement.
“I was really surprised with the number of passengers I saw today. The reason being that we didn’t make much noise about it but people still came. The turnout is impressive; of course the number was not the usual number that we used to carry.
“The train is going through various stations like Abeokuta, Ibadan, Ede, Osogbo, Offa, Ilorin, Jebba, Mokwa, Minna, Kaduna, Zaria, and others.
“We are assuring our teeming passengers that we are going to sustain this. We have done all we need to do to ensure that this service does not stop again,” he said.
Oche noted that the corporation delayed the commencement of the long-distance passenger trains to get all things right after suspension, adding that the NRC did not want to start and not being able to sustain it.
According to him, the six of the eight coaches being used for the Kano-bound train were refurbished, while another set are still being refurbished to give passengers standard services.
He said that the NRC was also working on the Diesel Multiple Units (DMUs) to ensure that all services are sustained, adding that the DMUs for the standard gauge and additional standard gauge locomotives had arrived.
“Very soon there will be a higher level of operations on the Lagos-Ibadan trial train services also. We are confident that we can sustain all we have started.
“We resumed operation of the Lagos mass transit train on Jan. 23, on the narrow gauge with one return trip train service from Kajola, in Ogun to Iddo, in Lagos and we are still doing that one rake daily.
“What we noticed is that on a daily basis, there have been increases of passengers we are carrying in this Lagos mass transit train.
“We have also sat down to look at our statistics and we have noticed that what we are carrying is above overcapacity, the number of people we are supposed to carry per coach.
“We have seen that we are having excess of an average of about 50 people per coach. We are working on the second rake daily-that is two trips per day,” he said.
According to him, the corporation is looking at one train departing Kajola for Lagos and another departing Ijoko for Iddo in Lagos every morning and return in the evening by 5:30 pm when another trip is added to Lagos mass transit train.
He said that the corporation had not resumed passengers’ train to Apapa but rather tiding up for freight operations on Apapa to Ebute Metta, Ijoko and Sanusi (Abeokuta) freight services on Saturday.
One of the beneficiaries of Lagos-Kano train, Alhaji Sidikat Bello, who commended the NRC for the resumption of the service, said that many people had suffered during the period of suspension.
Another beneficiary, Kehinde Adewuyi, a trader said: “This is the best thing to happen. We have been looking forward to this resumption. I hope it would not stop again.”
Miss Taibat Ogundele, an Offa-bound passenger, told newsmen that she was very happy with the resumption, saying that travelling by train was not only cheaper but has lesser risk.
Newsmen report that the ticket fees for Kano are N4, 550, N6,950 and N2,950 for First Class, Sleepers and Economy Coaches respectively, while ticket for Minna is N3,050, N4,650 and N 1,950 for First Class, Sleepers and Economy coaches respectively.
Ticket for Zaria passengers is N4, 000, N6,100 and N2,600 for First Class, Sleepers and Economy Coaches respectively, while ticket for Kaduna is N3,700, N5,600 and N 2,400 for First Class, Sleepers and Economy coaches respectively.
Ticket for Offa passengers is N1,450, N1,200 and N950 for First Class, Sleepers and Economy Coaches respectively while ticket for Ilorin is N1,650, N2,450 and N1, 100 for First Class, Sleepers and Economy coaches respectively.