Lagos — Ahead of the Christmas and New Year festivities, the Federal Government yesterday declared free train ride from Lagos to Ibadan.
This followed the test-run of the section of the 157-kilometer project from Fagba in Lagos to Ibadan where the standard gauge train terminates.
Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi who flagged off the train service from Lagos Saturday said the free ride which would commence on Monday would last till March 2020.
Daily Trust reports that the at the end of the free ride, the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) would commence commercial operation on the fast train while the construction work continues.
The China Civil Engineering and Construction Corporation (CCECC), the contractor handling the project, had since completed track laying from Iju to Ibadan end of the project. It has now further extended track laying inwards Lagos to Fagba as it approaches Ibadan.
Amaechi alongside officials from the Ministry, the Managing Director of the NRC, Engr. Fidet Okhiria rode rode from Fagba, in Lagos, to Ologuneru, Moniya, which is Kilometre 154, in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital.
The MD said the corporation and the contractor would release the modalities for the takeoff of the free train ride.
He said two luxury coaches would be deployed on the standard gauge daily, adding that because of the limited space, only about 60 to 80 people will be able to benefit from the free ride on first come, first served basis.
"Because of the limited spaces the free train ride will be on a first come first serve basis and this is how we would run till December 19. From December 21 as directed by the Minister, we would be running service return service daily and this is how we would operate till April when we are expected to begin full commercial operation on this corridor in line with the ministerial directive," Okhiria said.
The elated Amaechi who expressed satisfaction with the trial ride said it was in line with the promise made to Nigerians to have a smooth Yuletide celebration.
He said, "I am pleased to announce that the free train ride will begin on Monday at Iju, Lagos, and we would run one return trip to Ibadan. This would be the pattern till December 19 and there would be a break on December 20 to allow for the routine inspection.
"From December 21, we expect to run the service twice a day, and by this time we expected that passengers can now board at Agege, and we would be able to take them to Kilometre 157 in Ibadan."