We heard the Nigerian Railway Corporation have been hard at work trying to get railway transportation back up and running so we had to see for ourselves.
We got to the Lagos Terminus in Iddo to catch the 1pm first class train to Ijoko, Ogun state-the last stop on the daily Lagos trains. The ticket fare each way was N300. The ticket itself was an interesting small wooden chip. We showed our tickets at the entrance to the platform. Not much scrutiny in actually checking the tickets, though that’s probably because it’s usually just one train loading at any given time.
No complaints though. We got on the train looking for the first class coach. Turned out the whole train is first class and for N300. How great is that? We immediately started click-clicking away on our cameras while there were few people on the train. People apparently aren’t too fond of cameras and photographing in the station is frowned upon so we had to be careful. We were rather impressed by the state of the train-clean, air-conditioned and comfortable. The train even prompts you when the next station is approaching. Everyone was orderly too, perhaps because it was the first class train.
We finally departed at 1:30pm and got talking to a few people who regularly use travel by rail. We must’ve looked like tourists so they were quick and happy to give us the lay of the land. First things first, they warned us not to attempt photographing if we ever took the second class train. Remember how we found out the whole train was a first class train? Well there’s a whole train that’s the second class train. You’ve probably seen that train. It’s yellow and green and packed full with people spilling out, hanging off or riding on top of the train. There’s no air conditioning but it’s the cheaper option especially at peak periods when the first class train fare goes up to N750. Some people said to probably not try it. I guess we looked too butty. Some others said we should because there’s so much fun to be had on the train. Maybe we will.
We got to the first stop in no time. There are train station signs at each stop which were fun to look out for. If you look close enough you’d notice the old stone train station signs which we are guessing might be from the colonial era. Unlike the Iddo Train Station, there’s hardly any train station buildings for the rest of the stops, most of which are within a market.
Iddo--Ebute Metta Juntion (Alagomeji)---Yaba---Mushin---Oshodi---Ikeja---Agege---Iju Junction---Agbado---Itoki---Ijoko. The ride took about an hour 20mins and was a traffic-free comfortable journey. We got off the train, bought a ticket for the ride back.
The return journey was a bit less desirable as we found out there’s actually just one working track and as such we had to stop a couple times to give way for an oncoming train. Our return train was headed for Apapa so we got off at Ebute Metta Junction, took a cab and was back at the Iddo Station by 5:45pm.
For a lot of frequent train railroad travelers, going by rail is highly preferred to road transportation because they can escape the Lagos traffic craziness. There are several trains between Iddo and Ijoko and Apapa each day from as early as 5:30am till as late as 8:50pm so there are multiple travel options. The railway service also provides a good travel alternative for trips to other states. There is a Tuesday train to Ilorin which stops at Agege, Abeokuta, Ibadan, Ede, Osogbo, and Offa, as well as a Friday train which goes as far as Kano, all for amazingly affordable fares. The Ilorin and Kano trains have economy, first class and first class sleeper coaches. The economy coaches are the same as the daily economy trains. The first class coaches are nice and air conditioned with cushioned reclining seats that have drop down eating trays. The first class sleeper coaches have bunk bed and are reserved for passengers travelling farther north. Great alternative to travelling by road ay? We definitely will be taking the Tuesday/Friday train out of Lagos soon. Oh and did we forget to mention, there’s a cargo service as well.
Our little birds in the North tell us the Northern trains and their station are very impressive. The train stations in Kubwa, Kaduna and Abuja to mention a few are modern with nice waiting lounges and cafes. The trains have mini bars selling refreshments on board the train.
Really great progress being made by the Nigerian Railway Corporation and we look forward to more but in the mean time we’ll be exploring the various train routes and keeping you updated. But if you ever find yourself stuck trying to find out how to get somewhere for an affordable price, try going by rail and share your experience with us.
Till then, safe travels.