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Railways in

Nigeria

Standard gauge DMU at station
A Chinese built diesel multiple unit of Nigerian Railways
at Kaduna station on the standard gauge line to Abuja.

The first railway in Nigeria was opened in 1898 between Lagos and Abeokuta, a distance of 96km. In common with the railways of other British colonies in Africa, the chosen gauge was 3ft 6in (1067mm), and this gauge was used for subsequent expansion.

The present day network extends to some 3500km of route and reaches many parts of the country, although given the huge land area coverage is sparse. In the early part of the 21st century lines were very run down and underutilized. Rehabilitation of existing lines and construction of new ones has since taken place, and is ongoing.

In 1991 new standard (1435mm) gauge line opened to connect iron ore workings in the Itakpe area with steel works at Ajaokuta. The line was extended to Warri in 2013, a total distance of 327km. Passenger traffic on the line commenced in 2019.

In 2012, construction began on a new 181km standard gauge line from Lagos to Ibadan. Trial services commenced in early 2020, although about 25km of line and several intermediate stations have yet to be completed.

In 2014, a new 186km standard gauge line from Abuja to Kaduna was completed. Freight services commenced the following year, passenger services from May, 2016.

In 2015, a contract was signed for the construction of a 334km commuter rail network in Ogun state, north of Lagos. The first line would run from Abeokuta to Ijebu Ode.

In 2017, plans were announced for a new 275km line linking the steel works at Ajaokuta with the Agbaja Iron Ore Project in Kogi State.

In 2019, a contract was signed for a new 200km standard gauge railway from Abuja linking with the existing line to Warri at Itakpe. The project also includes a 50km branch to Lokoja and and extension from the existing terminus at Warri to the port.

In 2020, contracts were let for the rehabilitation and reconstruction of the 1067mm gauge Port Harcourt – Maiduguri line. The work will include several new branches and an interchange with the standard gauge network at Kafanchan.

In 2021, a new 181km standard gauge line from Lagos to Ibadan opened for service. Construction began on two new standard gauge lines: 305km from Kaduna to Kano, and 248km Kano to Maradi, Niger. Funding was agreed for the proposed 1400km standard gauge line from lagos to Calabar.

A light rail transit system opened in Abuja in 2018. Similar systems are under construction or proposed in various cities. A number of monorail systems have been proposed but only that at Calabar appears to be progressing at the present time.

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Photo image from the website of The Abuja Times