Open main menu

Lagos–Kano Standard Gauge Railway

The Lagos–Kano Standard Gauge Railway is an under construction standard gauge railway across Nigeria, from the Atlantic Ocean port of Lagos to Kano, near the Niger border. The railway will run parallel to the British-built Cape gauge line, which has a lower design capacity and is in a deteriorated condition.[1]

Lagos–Kano Standard Gauge Railway
StatusAbuja–Kaduna operational

Lagos–Ibadan under construction

Other segments in planning
Opened26 July 2016 (2016-07-26) (Abuja-Kaduna)
Track gauge1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) standard gauge
Operating speed100 km/h (62 mph)
Lagos–Kano Standard Gauge Railway
Ewekoro - Papalanto
Oyo - Olodo
Ido - Omi-Adio
Abuja - Idu
Kaduna - Rigasa

The railway is being built in segments. Only the segment between Abuja and Kaduna has been completed so far, and services began officially in July 2016. The segment between Lagos and Ibadan is under construction.



After Nigeria became independent from Great Britain, the colonial-era railways progressively fell into a state of disrepair. Passenger traffic on the Nigerian railways fell from 11 million in 1964 to 1.6 million in 2003. Freight traffic almost collapsed, falling from 3 million tonnes in 1964 to less than 100,000 tonnes in 2000.[2] In early 2013, it took 31 hours for passenger trains to travel between Lagos and Kano, at an average speed of just 45 km/h.[3]

Although projects have begun to rehabilitate the Cape gauge railways, economic growth in Nigeria has made a standard gauge line desirable.[1] In 2006, the Nigerian government awarded a $8.3 billion contract to the China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation to construct a standard gauge railway from Lagos to Kano. Due to an inability to secure funding for the whole project, the Nigerian government decided to build the standard gauge line in segments and rehabilitate the narrow-gauge line in the meantime.[4]


The 187 km segment from Abuja to Kaduna was the first to be built. Abuja was not on the national railway network, as it was purpose-built as a capital city after Nigeria became independent from Great Britain.[5] Kaduna is an important junction point on the existing Cape gauge railway network, where a branch line departs the Lagos–Nguru line for Kafanchan, on the Port Harcourt–Maiduguri Railway.

The construction of the Abuja–Kaduna segment cost $876 million, consisting of $500 million in loans from the Exim Bank of China and the balance coming from the Nigerian government.[5] The China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC) originally expected to complete the project in December 2014.[6]

However, various difficulties delayed the opening of the route. Railway supplies were being stolen by miscreants, forcing CCECC to build a corridor fence to secure the tracks.[6] The decline in the value of the Nigerian naira led to a shortfall in government funding for the project.[5][6] Delays arose in the acquisition of land required for the railway through compulsory purchase. Although CCECC had marked the Daughters of Charity hospital in Abuja for demolition in 2014, the government did not pay compensation to the hospital until April 2016.[7]

Construction began on 20 February 2011.[8] Tracklaying began in 2013, and the railway began trial operations in June 2016. The railway was officially inaugurated on 26 July 2016.[5]


A $1.53 billion contract was awarded in 2012 to the China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation for construction of the Lagos–Ibadan segment (156 km) of the standard gauge railway by 2016.[4] However, the project has also faced delays. A ground-breaking ceremony finally took place on 7 March 2017, and the railway was scheduled for completion in December 2018.[9] Construction was delayed by heavy rains in Spring 2018,[10] and the Nigerian government had to deploy soldiers to protect the railway workers from hoodlums and armed robbers.[11] Construction was further delayed by the 2019 Nigerian general election, when CCECC evacuated its Chinese employees as a precaution.[12] The railway is now scheduled for completion in May 2020.[13]

Other segmentsEdit

On 15 May 2018, the Nigerian Minister of Transportation signed a $6.68 billion contract with the China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation to complete the remaining segments of the Lagos–Kano Standard Gauge Railway. Construction is expected to take 2-3 years from the availability of funds.[14]

  • Ibadan-Ilorin (200 km)
  • Ilorin-Minna (270 km)
  • Minna–Abuja
  • Kaduna-Kano (305 km)

Future connection to WarriEdit

In 1987, the Nigerian government awarded a contract to build the country's first standard gauge railway, linking the mines at Itakpe to the Ajaokuta Steel Mill and onwards to the port city of Warri. However, the project stagnated and was still not finished when the Abuja–Kaduna line opened. CCECC took over construction on the line, with expected completion in July 2019.[15]


The completion of the Abuja–Kaduna line in 2016 came at a critical time for ground transport in the region. Starting in 2009, the Abuja-Kaduna Expressway fell into a state of lawlessness as it was besieged by armed robbers and kidnappers. Many of the victims were prominent government officials, including Sierra Leone's High Commissioner to Nigeria.[16] Fearing for their safety, travelers flocked to the train.[17] By April 2019, even the weekend trains were selling out, and railway officials were arrested for ticket racketeering.[18] Senator Mohammed Ali Ndume reported that he had to stand on the train for two hours, and Senator James Manager said, "It is one who wants to commit suicide that will take the road."[19]


See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b Israel, Olumide (March 2, 2014). "Railway: The return of the economic live wire!". Vanguard.
  2. ^ Komolafe, Oladayo (2015-02-17). "Overseeing the resurrection of Nigerian railways". News Agency of Nigeria. Archived from the original on 2016-07-26. Retrieved 2016-07-26.
  3. ^ "A slow but steady new chug". The Economist. 9 February 2013.
  4. ^ a b "Abuja-Kaduna Rail Line, Nigeria". Railway Technology. Retrieved 2016-02-20.
  5. ^ a b c d "President inaugurates Abuja – Kaduna railway". 2016-07-26.
  6. ^ a b c Odittah, Chuka (2016-01-27). "Hope dims on N170 billion Abuja-Kaduna rail project". The Guardian (Nigeria).
  7. ^ "'Compensation over Abuja-Kaduna railway ready'". Daily Nigeria News. 2016-04-08. Archived from the original on 2016-04-08.
  8. ^ "Abuja-Kaduna Rail line, Prospects and Challenges". Vanguard News. 25 July 2016. Archived from the original on 26 July 2016.
  9. ^ "Nigeria: Lagos-Ibadan Rail Project Ready in 2018 - Osinbajo". Premium Times (Abuja). 7 March 2017.
  10. ^ "Rain, Others Delay Lagos-Ibadan Rail Construction". Nigeriana News - Nigerian Newspaper. 25 May 2018.
  11. ^ "CCECC begins overnight work on Lagos-Ibadan rail project". Punch Newspapers. 23 December 2018.
  12. ^ Nnodim, Okechukwu (16 March 2019). "Lagos-Ibadan railway: Chinese contractors return to Nigeria after elections". Punch Newspapers.
  13. ^ "Lagos-Ibadan Rail Project Will Give Value for Money — FRC". Vanguard News. 14 April 2019.
  14. ^ "Chinese firm, Nigeria sign 6 bln USD rail project agreement". Xinhua. 16 May 2018.
  15. ^ "Keeping up with the Lagos-Ibadan Standard Guage Railway Project". This Day (Nigeria). 23 May 2019.
  16. ^ Augustine, Agbo-Paul (17 June 2017). "Abuja-Kaduna Road: The Bad, The Ugly". Leadership Newspaper.
  17. ^ Okogba, Emmanuel (28 April 2019). "Abuja/Kaduna Commuters: Rail Raises Safety Niche on Road Transport". Vanguard News.
  18. ^ "Greedy Train Station Officials Hoard Tickets, Triple Prices As Abuja-Kaduna Kidnappers Scare Passengers Away From Road". Sahara Reporters. 8 April 2019.
  19. ^ Iroanusi, QueenEsther (8 May 2019). "After standing in train for two hours, Senator wants more coaches for Abuja-Kaduna rail line". Premium Times (Nigeria).