Test-run has begun on the Lagos Blue line train service projected to convey between 200,000 and 250,000 passengers daily, promising relief for residents of Nigeria’s commercial hub where several man-hours are lost to intractable gridlock every day.
The test-run is free, meaning that Lagos residents will be able to enjoy a free ride on the 13-km train service running from Marina to Mile 2 from now until April this year when the service begins full rail operation.
At the commencement of the test-run in Lagos on Monday, Abimbola Akinajo, managing director of Lagos State Metropolitan Area Transport Authority (LAMATA), informed that there would be a free train ride three times a week over the next two to three months.
The exercise is coming barely three weeks after President Muhammadu Buhari commissioned the Marina to Mile 2 corridor, the first phase of the Blue Rail Line, alongside Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu and his deputy, Obafemi Hamzat.
“The test run is open for Lagosians from all walks of life to board the train and have a feel of its comfort. Market men and women, artisans, students, members of the media, and other professionals are being invited to enjoy the free train ride,” Akinajo said on Monday.
“Any Nigerian who wishes to join the free train ride should send their email address to LAMATA to enable us to book them for the free ride within the week,’’ she said.
Akinajo explained that rail transport was not a direct bus system as a lot of things were involved and those things had to be put in top shape before commencement of commercial operation.
Part of the objectives for the test-run, she said, was to get feedback from different categories of people who would use the service, including traders, university students, and primary, and secondary schools ahead of start of commercial operation.
The LAMATA boss said the automatic processing unit could process 250 passengers every minute, and the schedule was to have a train position to run every three minutes.
She explained that for the first phase, the Blue Light train would be able to carry between 200,000 and 250,000 passengers daily based on the availability of rolling stock.
She said the government had purchased three rolling stocks at present and may purchase another six by the time the second phase was completed.
“Operations would run from 5.30 a.m. to 11 p.m. every day. The system is designed to run a train in three minutes. During rush hours we will pull more trains, while during off-peak periods we would pull off the operation,” Akinajo said.
Regarding the fare, she said it had yet to set it, but promised that the government was working on a template, factoring the prevailing economic situation in the country, to ensure the train was affordable to the people.
The phase 1 of the Blue rail line, commissioned by Buhari on January 24, 2023, is part of the Lagos Rail Mass Transit. The entire stretch of the rail line is planned to run 27.5km from Marina to Okokomaiko with 13 stations. With the completion of the first phase from Marina to Mile 2, the government had signed for the commencement of the second phase stretching from Mile 2 to Okokomaiko.