Nigeria’s transport minister Mr Rotimi Amaechi was on-board the first run together with local politicians and the managing director of Nigerian Railway Corporation, Mr Fidet Okhiria.

The Lagos - Ibadan line is being constructed by China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation and follows the alignment of the existing 1067mm-gauge Lagos - Kano main line.

“We will run free rides from Iju to Abeokuta for two months,” Amaechi said. “There will be three trips every day. We are also trying to build the stations, and they should be completed before the end of the year. The project is about 70% complete.” Amaechi added that “rocky terrain” in Oyo state might slow down the pace of work although blasting has already started.

Okhiria says trains will be able to operate at up 160km/h on the new line and that a journey time of 1 hour to 1h 15min is anticipated between Lagos and Ibadan, depending on the number of intermediate stops, when the service is extended north to Ibadan at the end of April. He expects delivery of additional passenger trains, locomotives and 200 freight wagons by the end of March.