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Nigeria’s “High-Speed” Rail: A Personal Experience 18 Months Later

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Nigeria’s first ever high speed train service which open for service in March 2016. A double-track, standard gauge between Abuja and Kaduna that runs at 120 Km and 150 Km an hour. Come March, travellers will be able to journey from Abuja to Kaduna (and vice-versa) in less than an hour.

The Nigerian government made huge strides towards diversifying transportation when it announced that the first ever high-speed train service in the country, as reported by Techpoint. A project that caused the Federal government $849 million.

The China Railway Rolling Stock Corporation (CRRC) Nanjing Puzhen, who was commission the project has finished 10 orders for six African countries so far, including Nigeria, Sudan, Cameroon, and Kenya.

The first time I saw the train,  it was a beauty,  new, orderly and an amazing sight, all you just want to do is jump right in but the orderly has turned irregularities, and system malfunction. I went back to re-evaluate Nigeria’s “high-speed” rail after 18 months a little hiccup, it wasn’t as orderly and news or well-maintained as it was 1 year ago. For this experience, I am riding from the Kubwa Train Station in Abuja to the Rigasa Station in Kaduna State. I had to take note of most detail

At the station,  it look rather structurally and of course it has few anomalies, but most things still look sound. First thing I notice is that the metal detector on both ends are broken and security personnel resort to physical frisking to check passengers in.

At the ticket counter, the price has gone up to a 46% hike in tickets; a standard tickets now cost ₦1,300 as against ₦600 in 2016. Up from ₦900 in 2016, first class tickets now range between ₦2,500 and ₦3,300.

Our train is supposed to leave Kubwa by 9 AM on a Saturday morning but it has not, however the attendants as usual had no clue why the train for boarding had not arrived. By 10:00 Am it finally arrived and passengers begin boarding proper; after 30 minutes of waiting, with a deep sigh of relief and relaxation, I comfortable sat close to window as we pull out of Kubwa, Abuja by 10:30 AM.

The train’s interior is still in a surprisingly well-kept and generally pristine condition; everything smells new. Coaches are well air-conditioned and sparkly clean.

In the restroom, this spotless streak continues; toilets are spick and span with every accessory in good working order.

We made 3 stop at different stations and eventually reach Rigasa by 12:30 PM; that is 2 hours: 30 minutes from departure time. This is seemingly a 30-minute increment from 1 hours and 30 minutes in 2016.

The journey was literally comfortable, land smooth as I was with friends so it was exciting, the hiccups observed such as the increase in ticket cost, the delay and unsure of the train arrived and departure by station operations and staff, not to forget also the the breakdown of important material, which I classify as symptoms of an imminent decay if not properly fixed.

The outcome of this experience on the high speed rail,  will say is surprising well maintained, considering how infrastructures in some sectors in Nigeria hardly see this course of over 18 months,  talk more of 2 years but with this, one can say the first high speed hail is still functional but with just few hiccups.

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