Lagos Blue rail line was inaugurated yesterday but its electrification process will take a month as the transport authority tests growing adoption

On Monday, the Lagos state government launched its blue line, a 27km intra-city line connecting Okokomaiko to Marina and the first light-rail system in the city. Governor Babajide Sanwoolu was one of first passengers on Monday on a light rail system that has only been partially delivered after its conception in 2008. Yet the blue line will still have to wait four weeks to be electrified while it is still in testing phase, said the Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority (LAMATA). Presently, the train is pulled across its electric tracks with a diesel locomotive.

LAMATA told TechCabal that the situation is temporary. “What I don’t want us to be saying is that it is not electrified because people may want to run across the tracks,” Abimbola Akinajo, LAMATA’s Managing Director said. “The tracks are currently electrified.” 

While the blue line waits, to be electrified, the 37km red line, which is expected to be operational by the end of the year, will run on diesel. The red line stretches from Agbado to Ebute Meta and connects with the blue line at Marina. 

While the blue line will eventually have eleven stations, only five stations from Mile 2 to Marina, have been launched as phase one of the plan. Akinajo said the second phase of the blue line comprising six stations from Okokomaiko to Festac would be completed in three and a half years. “What we really want to do is add two more stations. We would include Alakija, Festac and bring that into operations in 18 months.” 

The Blue line is not open on both sides but currently operates like a monorail from Mile 2 to Marina. According to LAMATA, the both sides of the railway will work jointly once it is switched onto electric.

Passengers worry about the price point

Three passengers told TechCabal that they love the experience; the average travel time from Mile 2 to Marina is 20 minutes with a last mile provision at Marina to take you into Falomo, TBS  and Victoria Island. However the price point is still a concern. While a ticket from Marina to Mile 2 is N750, the state government is providing a 50% discount until the end of the year. Akinajo said the system must generate enough to sustain itself. “Let’s start with what we have,” Akinajo told TechCabal. “Transportation is important. When we are able to move, the economy of Lagos grows.”

In its unelectrified state, it carries a thousand passengers. The train is expected to carry 175,000 passengers daily with five stations in operation and will 500,000 passengers when the blue line is fully complete.

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Joseph Olaoluwa Senior Reporter, TechCabal

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