The Blue Line railway and the emerging Greater Lagos
The governor personally assumed the role of ride manager, taking the time to explain the boarding procedures to the eager crowd. His historic journey included notable figures such as his deputy, Dr. Obafemi Hamzat, the Secretary to the State Government, Mrs. Bimbola Salu-Hundeyin, former Deputy Governor of the State, Otunba Femi Pedro, former Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Rt. (Hon.) Adeyemi Ikuforiji, Senator Musiliu Obanikoro, and the governor’s wife, Dr. Ibijoke Sanwo-Olu, among other government officials. Covering the distance from Marina station to Mile 2 in just 17 to 20 minutes, with brief 90-second stops at each station, the ride showcased the efficiency of the new rail system.
During an engaging session with journalists, Governor Sanwo-Olu emphasized the importance of purchasing the Cowry card for facility access and cautioned against pedestrian crossings on the electrically powered rail tracks. The governor expressed gratitude to President Bola Tinubu for the comprehensive transportation master plan, encompassing rail, waterways, and road infrastructure. He revealed that the Redline rail project, nearing completion at 96%, would be commissioned by the President before the year’s end. Furthermore, he announced that the various stations and bridges would be inaugurated in September and October 2023. Managing Director of LAMATA, Engr. Abimbola Akiajo, shared exciting details about the metro service.
During its initial phase, the train would operate 12 trips daily for two weeks as part of a test run, eventually expanding to 76 trips from 5:30 am to 10 pm, accommodating 175,000 passengers daily. The service, adhering to a strict timetable available at stations and on the LAMATA website, would maintain a 90-second stop at each terminal for passenger boarding and alighting. Emphasizing safety, Akiajo mentioned the electrification of rail tracks and the installation of 300 cameras for monitoring. She discouraged eating or drinking on the train, ensuring a clean and orderly environment. The fare, presently reduced by 50% to N375, was set to increase to N750 when the reduction was lifted by the government.
The commissioning marked a significant achievement, making Lagos the first sub-national government in Africa to fund and deliver a rail system from its balance sheet. The construction of the second phase, spanning 14 kilometers from Mile 2 to Okokomaiko, commenced immediately after completing the first phase. Built by China Civil Engineering Construction Corp, the Blue Line seamlessly connects the mainland to Lagos Island, ushering in a new era of efficient and modern transportation for the city. When it begins full operation, the Blue Line is expected to move about 250,000 passengers daily.
The completed first phase of the project comprises five beautiful passengers’ stations at Mile 2, Alaba, Orile-Iganmu, National Theatre and Marina. The Marina train station is a major interchange where other modes of transportation, water and road, will integrate with the rail. The electricity powered rail system, unified payment system (Cowry Card), World standard cars that are automated, fitted with audio and visual communication systems and speedometer to deter speed above 80km/HR are examples of the integration of technology to the project aimed towards making Lagos a smart city. The Blue Line is a public infrastructure that will positively transform the lives of Lagosians.
It is cheering to note that the passenger operation and maintenance of the train system will be concessioned to a capable operator to ensure its sustainability. Managed by the Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority (LAMATA), the 27-kilometer railroad line is one of the six rail lines and one monorail in the Lagos Strategic Transport Masterplan (STMP) to cater to public transport demand up till 2032. The master plan has six rail lines and one monorail, 14 Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) corridors, over 20 water routes and a number of major new roads. Powered by electricity and running at 80km/hour, the Blue Line cuts through the 10-lane Lagos-Badagry Expressway from Okokomaiko to Iganmu before soaring on a rail bridge from Iganmu to Marina.
The rail tracks are raised from Iganmu to Marina to achieve the lagoon level crossing for the rail tracks. For the safety of pedestrians, the entire rail tracks are securely fenced to deter any intrusion or crossing of the tracks. At regular intervals, the Blue Line corridor is equipped with well-defined pedestrian bridges. The trains are also fitted with speed governors to deter speeds above 80km/hour. The Blue Rail will certainly help to reduce the pressure on road traffic, especially as most people from the mainland work on the island.
The fact that it runs from Mile 2 all the way to Marina is even better, as it means it will pick up people from the Badagry axis coming to the island and also those of from Surulere. Residents of Orile and Iganmu can also join since the stations are there. It will hasten business transactions, enhance the beautification of the environment, and speed delivery in terms of transportation. It will certainly attract foreign partnerships and private investments, which will boost the state’s earnings.
The milestone in the development of the Lagos Rail Mass Transit is the culmination of several impactful reforms in the transport ecosystem of Lagos, starting in 1999. Over the last two decades, the project has been devotedly implemented by successive administrations. When the second phase is completed, the entire project would take 500,000 people daily. With the Blue Line, the Sanwo-Olu administration’s vision for an integrated transport system, as enunciated in the T.H.E.M.E.S PLUS agenda, is becoming a reality.
Now, Lagosians can experience a multimodal system of transportation through the road, rail and waterways with an integrated mode of payment via the Cowry Card. A Greater Lagos is, indeed, rising!
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