On invitation from the Lagos State government, I led members of the NewsmakersNG editorial team to the train station at Marina on February 15, 2023, for a feel of the recently launched Lagos Rail Mass Transit (LRMT) known as Blue Line.
We found the train station, a gigantic edifice hugging and kissing the coastline along the Marina.
We parked our cars on the belly of the mammoth structure with a skeletal network of huge pillars and several channels of parking space with multiple tongues lashing out onto the shoulders of Marina Road. A staircase led us up the foyer, where cool music welcomed the people.
There are provisions such as ramps, elevators, and escalators, for people living with disability and those with reduced mobility. There are also spaces designated for those in wheelchairs.
The train station is a ritzy rendezvous. Spacious and airy. One could see that a lot of thinking has gone into the project. At the boarding gate and inside the train, the technology was cushy. There are audio and audiovisual communication systems at the stations and on the train for entertainment, ease of communication, and information dissemination. Free WIFI is also available on board. You’ll just connect to a Cowry WIFI-BLR, log in with your phone number, wait for 30 secs countdown and Bob’s your uncle!
Each of us gained access with a boarding pass called Cowry Card – a Lagos State travel unified payment system to board the commuter train running a 13-kilometer stretch from Marina to Mile 2 in less than 20 minutes.
Managed by the Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority (LAMATA), the Blue Line runs from Marina to Okokomaiko. The 27-kilometer railroad line is one of the six rail lines and one monorail in the Lagos strategic transport masterplan (STMP) to cater to public transport demand up till 2032.
Powered by electricity and running at 80km/hour, the Blue Line cuts through the 10-lane Lagos-Badagry Expressway from Okokomaiko to Iganmu before ascending on a rail bridge from Iganmu to Marina. It has 11 stations on the route.
The Lagos State Commissioner for Transport, Dr. Frederic Abimbola Oladeinde, and the Managing Director of LAMATA, Engr. Abimbola Akinajo with other officials served as our tour guides.
We learned that the rail tracks are elevated from Iganmu to Marina to achieve the lagoon level crossing for the rail tracks. For the safety of pedestrians, the entire rail tracks are securely fenced to deter any intrusion or crossing of the tracks. At regular intervals, the Blue Line corridor is equipped with well-defined pedestrian bridges. The trains are also fitted with speed governors to deter speeds above 80km/hour.
The LRMT is projected to move more than 400,000 passengers when all the phases are completed. The first phase is expected to move more than 200, 000 commuters daily.
Under the phase, five stations have been built and furnished for passenger operations at Mile 2, Alaba, Orile-Iganmu, National Theatre, and Marina. The Marina Station is a major transport interchange where other modes – water and road transport would integrate with the rail.
The train arrives at every station between 3 to 5 minutes intervals, and the travel information is updated in real-time on electronic information boards mounted in each cabin.
It was a pleasant ride. It was life on the fast lane. Locomotion above the typical Lagos commotion.
We got an eyeful of the complex chromaticity of the city, the scenic splendor, sweet seducing sights, the phantasmagoria of the variegated cityscape, the shacks and the skyscrapers, seascape, industrial parks, boats cruising, ships at bay, sprinkles of yellow buses making strong statements on congested routes, the spirit of enterprise in Central Lagos, and the seamy side of the Lagos outback. It was a smooth, safe, and spiritually elevating experience. The pleasure was exquisite, the experience exhilarating.
You’ll feel like just relaxing in the cozy and chilling ambiance of the cabin, as the train is skiing smoothly across the city, but there is much to see in the city’s topographic anatomy.
With the completion of this novel project, the first of its kind in Nigeria, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu has inscribed his name on the tablet of eternity as an achiever. And it’s a melodic phrase for the presidential campaign of his visionary leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu who has made much commitment to the development of the transportation system and network in Lagos thereby boosting the economy, reducing crimes, and creating jobs.
We were back at base in no time, and we felt refreshed like a family returning from a Christmas break.
-Kehinde, a winner of the NMMA Newspaper Reporter of the Year award, DAME Press Reporter of the Year, and a BBC Prize, is the CEO of NewsmakersNG.