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Minister of Transportation Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi ceremonially flagged off a train on April 16 to mark the start of commercial freight operations on the 1 435 mm gauge Warri – Itakpe line.
Nigerian Railway Corp is operating trains for Nigerian National Petroleum Corp to move materials for the Ajaokuta – Kaduna – Kano gas pipeline project.
The first commercial freight train ran from Warri to Itakpe on April 8, with completing the 327 km journey in 8 h. It carried 96 pipes imported through the port of Warri, which NNPC said was the equivalent of 32 lorries. ‘Less cost, faster delivery time, safer, protecting our roads and more. The infrastructure revolution is paying up’, said NNPC Group Managing Director Mele Kyari.
Flat wagons and vans have been supplied from China for use on the line’s freight services, which Amaechi said would help to ‘greatly boost’ GDP and enhance the socio-economic development of communities along the route.
The Itakpe – Ajaokuta – Warri standard gauge railway has been developed in phases since 1987; it was initially intended as a freight line but has been completed as mixed traffic railway. Commercial passenger operations began in 2019, serving 12 stations. The minister reported that ridership had increased by more than 200% in the last few months, with rail becoming a preferred option for travellers, adding that he wanted to see the line extended to the federal capital district in Abuja.
This article first appeared on www.railwaygazette.com
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