If you’re willing to take a short five-minute walk from the National Theatre gate in Lagos to the newly established Blue Line Rail Station, you have the chance to reach Mile 2 in under 25 minutes, avoiding the notorious traffic and noise associated with road commuting in Lagos.
Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos officially launched the Blue Line Rail System on a Monday, marking the beginning of its operations. The inaugural trip took the governor and his entourage from Marina to Mile 2, with stops at the National Theatre, Iganmu, and Alaba.
In the coming months, if all goes well, the Blue Line Rail System will extend its services beyond Mile 2 to Okokomaiko, making stops at Festac, Trade Fair, Alakija, LASU, and other prominent bus stops. Ongoing efforts are being made to realize this expansion.
Currently in its testing phase, the Blue Line Rail System relies on diesel for power, albeit temporarily. Abimbola Akinajo, the managing director of Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority (LAMATA), has assured that this reliance on diesel is a short-term arrangement.
Another ambitious project, the 37km Red Line, is slated for completion by the end of the year. This line will also run on diesel and connect Agbado to Ebute Meta before linking up with the Blue Line Rail at Marina.
Despite its recent launch, the Blue Line Rail System has been remarkably punctual, adhering to its schedules with precision. However, on its first day, the station remained relatively empty, with significant work yet to be done in its waiting area.
Once fully operational, the Blue Line Rail System is expected to cater to 500,000 passengers daily, though current hopes are set at a minimum of 175,000 daily passengers.
The collaborative effort of various companies has been instrumental in making the Blue Line Rail System a reality. LAMATA plays a key role, alongside Chinese engineers from the China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC) and the China Railway Construction Corporation (CRCC). Additionally, the train operators, imported from Abuja, are all-male drivers with extensive experience in the field.
Other vital contributors include Cowry, responsible for supplying cards and train tickets, and eTap, which manages the touch-and-pay technology at the boarding gates.
Passengers who opted for the train had to stand and wait until the evening train’s boarding commenced at 5 p.m., with some passengers arriving as early as 4 p.m.
At the National Theatre station, the first stop after Marina, passengers had to make a short trek on foot, though plans are underway to introduce shuttles for passenger convenience shortly.
The bus fare from Marina to Mile 2 has been reduced by 50 percent as part of the Lagos government’s efforts to provide relief during challenging economic times.
While passengers experienced smooth card-swiping processes at the Marina Station, the National Theatre station faced some technical challenges with its eTap gate system, causing minor inconveniences for passengers.
Overall, the staff at the Blue Line Rail stations, from security personnel to ticket agents and managers, have displayed patience and politeness toward passengers, assisting whenever needed.
In a time of significant change and uncertainty, the Blue Line Rail System offers promising prospects for improving transportation in Lagos. Its transition to electric power is a positive step forward in creating a more efficient and sustainable commuting experience for the city’s residents.