The line starts at Idu, around 20km west of Abuja city centre, and roughly follows the route of the Abuja - Kaduna - Zaria Expressway, serving 10 intermediate stations.

Services operate at up to 100km/h with a journey time of around two hours for the fastest trains between Idu and Kaduna. NRC operates a mixture of stopping and express services and each train is formed of four air-conditioned coaches, including a bar/cafe car.

The line was built by China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation under a $US 870m contract awarded in 2009.

At the opening ceremony Buhari stressed that the government is committed to implementing the 25-year Strategic Railway Master Plan, which calls for the rehabilitation NRC’s 3505km 1067mm-gauge network as well as the construction of new standard gauge lines. “The Abuja-Kaduna service will provide a much-needed alternative transport link between the Federal Capital Territory and Kaduna state, a corridor which has a huge potential for industries, agricultural activities and a growing labour force,” Buhari says. “Completion and commissioning of this project is in keeping with our vision of bringing about the desired change to make life easier for Nigerians through the development and provision of the necessary social and physical infrastructure.

“In this regard, I wish to assure Nigerians that most State capitals and major commercial and production centres will be linked to the railway system as a way of bringing about rapid socio-economic development and improving quality of life.”