By BENJAMIN OMOIKE
The Lagos State Government on Wednesday announced that the Blue Line Rail will start commercial operations on Monday, September 4, 2023.
The Managing Director of the Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority (LAMATA), Engr. Abimbola Akinajo, spoke on the commencement date during a press conference at the iconic Marina Station of the Blue Line Rail in Lagos.
Akinajo, who took reporters on a guided ride and tour of the physical infrastructure of the Blue Line Rail from the Marina Station to the National Arts Theatre Station in Iganmu, said Lagos State Governor, Mr. 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.
She said partial passenger operations will start on Tuesday from 6:30 am to 10 am for the morning peak and the afternoon Peak from 4 pm to 9:30 pm, 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 locomotive 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 despite the train running on locomotive for the first four weeks, the tracks would remain energised so that passengers are not 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 – 9 pm (evening peak). The train will stop for 90 seconds at each station. It will run 76 trips, from 5.30 am to 11 pm, when it becomes fully operational in four weeks,” she said.
The full length of the train trip from Marina – Mile 2, according to Akinajo will cost N750 but 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 cowry 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 complete 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 in all stations. Plain cloth 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 also will 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.