Trains in Nigeria: A slow but steady new chug

Safer and cheaper than the bus

BRAKES let out a deafening screech and steam fills the station as the Lagos-Kano train ends its 30-hour journey. Hundreds of passengers emerge wearily from brightly painted yellow, green and white carriages. It may be sweaty, crowded and very late, but after a ten-year absence this revamped link between Nigeria’s two biggest cities is a welcome relief. Travelling the 1,126km (700 miles) at an average speed of less than 50km an hour with endless stops, it is no wonder the trip takes so long. But for most Nigerians the low fares are worth it. A second-class ticket from Lagos to Kano costs around $12, roughly a quarter of the price of a more treacherous bus ride. “Hundreds of people were waiting at Ilorin [300km north of Lagos] but there wasn’t enough space for us all,” says a mother trying to appease a screaming child on her hip. “I had to stand the whole way.”The service was relaunched last month after improvements costing $166m. Nigeria’s railways, started in 1898, have deteriorated in the past 20 years owing to those old engines of decay, corruption and mismanagement. Nigerians’ domestic travel…

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