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Lagos to launch its blue rail line on Sept 4, as commercial operations kick-off

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By Temi Olowu

The Lagos State Government announced on Wednesday that the Blue Line Rail will start commercial operations on Monday, September 4, 2023, which is earlier than the scheduled October targetted by the government previously.

In July, the Chief Press Secretary to the state governor, Gboyega Akosile had told the Global Financial Digest that the train service would commence commercial operations in October, barring all unforeseen delays.

He assured the public that all hands are on deck to ensure the commencement of operation of the Blue Line rail in October this year.

“Yes, there’s a timeline for the commencement of commercial operations. The commercial operations will commence by October this year, “barring any disruption.”

According to him, the delay in the takeoff of the train service was due to the failure of the contractors building the dedicated power plants that would power the operation of the train on schedule as a result of multiple headwinds.

“The slight delay was due to the dedicated power plants being built by the State Government. The contractors could not deliver on schedule due to the volatility in the global economy caused by the COVID pandemic.

“As we speak, they’re working day and night to ensure that the power/electricity end of the train completes before the end of August or early September this year.

“We are very optimistic that, barring any disruption, everything will be completed before mid-September, and we’ll start commercial operations immediately after,” Akosile told Global Financial Digest.

The immediate past president, Mohammadu Buhari, came to Lagos on January 24, this year to commission the light rail from Okokomaiko to Lagos Marina, christened the Blue Line.

RELATED STORY: Lagos hopes to kickstart Blue Line Rail operation in October ‘barring any disruption’

However, speaking on Wednesday, the Managing Director of the Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority (LAMATA), Abimbola Akinajo said Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, would take the inaugural ride on the train at 9 a.m. on Monday, September 4, before other passengers begin to ride.

Akinajo spoke on the commencement date during a press conference at the iconic Marina Station of the Blue Line Rail in Lagos.

She said partial passenger operations will start on Tuesday from 6:30 a.m. to 10 a.m. for the morning peak and the afternoon peak from 4 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., adding that the operations will start with 12 trips for two weeks, which will later be increased to 76 trips per day.

Akinajo disclosed that though the train is electric, it would run on locomotives for the first four weeks of operation to allow the electric system to come up fully and sync properly with the physical infrastructure, adding that the plan is to allow passengers to get familiar with the rail system.

She said that despite the train running on a locomotive for the first four weeks, the tracks would remain energized so that passengers would not be allowed to cross them.

The LAMATA boss said about 150,000 passengers are expected to board the train daily. “The train would run 12 trips in two schedules for now: 6.30 am to 10 am (morning peak) and 4.30 pm to 9 pm (evening peak).

The train will stop for 90 seconds at each station. It will run 76 trips, from 5.30 a.m. to 11 p.m., when it becomes fully operational in four weeks,” she said.

The full length of the train trip from Marina to Mile 2, according to Akinajo, will cost N750, but he noted that the 50 percent discount announced by Governor Sanwo-Olu on all Lagos public transportation rides also applies to the train ride.

She said passengers can only access the service with their credit cards, noting that cash or paper tickets would not be accepted.

Akinajo, who warned against eating and drinking on the train, said adequate security has been put in place for the security of lives and property, noting that anyone with criminal intent would be arrested and handed over to the police as there are about 30 cameras along the tracks.

She said: “A full journey from Marina to Mile 2 will cost N750, and zonal fares will be between N400 and N500 for people not making the full trip. The transportation palliative announced by Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu will also cover the train system, meaning that the highest fare for the full trip will be N375.

“We are going to put safety measures in place. There are over 300 CCTV cameras across the whole Blue Line Rail and over 30 cameras monitoring the tracks alone. Command and control centers are also available at all stations. Plain-clothes security agents and officers of the Lagos Neighbourhood Safety Corps will ride with passengers at all times. Any altercation on the train will not be tolerated. Vandalism will also not be tolerated.”

Speaking on the initial delay in the commencement of the Blue Line Rail, which was earlier scheduled to commence operation in August, Akinajo said the delay was caused by prevailing circumstances around import and export.

She, however, noted that LAMATA is committed to starting operations on September 4 without any further delay since all the necessary things have been put in place for the operations of the Blue Line rail.

It would be recalled that President Muhammadu Buhari, on January 24, 2023, in the company of Governor Sanwo-Olu and his deputy, Dr. Obafemi Hamzat, commissioned the first phase of the Blue Rail Line, which runs from Marina to Mile 2, and also witnessed the signing of the commencement of Phase 2 of the project from Mile 2 to Okokomaiko.

The Blue Rail Line, part of the Lagos Rail Mass Transit, will run 27.5 km from Marina to Okokomaiko, with 13 stations and an end-to-end journey time of 35 minutes.

(Edited by Oludare Mayowa; omayowa@globalfinancialdigest.com; Newsroom: +234 8033 964 138)

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