I took the Lagos-Ibadan train ride on the second day after it was officially opened for commercial business. It was a wonderful experience. I know many people would write about the train as more people get to use it, so I would only focus on salient points that people may miss in this essay of mine.
1. Very few people know exactly where to board the train, not even people who live around the train station. So, in Lagos, the place to board the train is the train station at Alagomeji bus stop in the Yaba area. You go on the road from Ojuelegba through Tejuosho to burst out at Yaba. Once you get to the end of Tejuosho road, turn right and just keep going down like you are going to the end of the road. Keep looking at your right where you have the BRT lane, you would see Alagomeji bus stop. Right next to the bus stop is the entrance to the train station. It is an old building.
2. You need to go with an I.D card. Any I.D card is being accepted for now. Without an I.D card, you CAN’T purchase a ticket. It is MANDATORY.
3. You want to get to the train station at least 30 minutes before departure time. This is to allow you have time to purchase tickets, register and do the trek to the platform. The train leaves at the dot of time. 4PM!
4. Except you go in a group, or you want to be lonely, don’t bother to buy the Business class or VIP tickets for now (I made that mistake), just buy the economy ticket and you would enjoy the trip more as you would meet people and have valuable conversations. I actually left the VIP cabin to go sit in the economy cabin all through the journey.
5. The train ride is a great way of networking. I made valuable contacts on the train. You would be surprised at how an innocuous looking person is a high network personality.
6. The least ticket is NGN 2,500 while the highest VIP ticket is NGN 6,000. The 2,500 ticket gets you to sit in the 88 passengers cabin while the 6k ticket gets you to sit in a 24 passenger cabin. The prices are a bit lower if you are dropping at Abeokuta instead of Ibadan.
7. The train carries 412 people at once in full capacity, that is an equivalent of 23 18-seater passenger buses. There are cabins for 88 passengers, 68 passengers, 56 passengers and 24 passenger.
8. The A.C in the train can be very chilling at times, you can call on the train hostesses to adjust the temperature (I actually did this).
9. For now, there is only one station where the train stops, that is the Abeokuta station. Most other stations on the route are still being built.
10. The last train station in Ibadan is at Moniya. It is a 10 minutes drive to Ọjọọ main park in Ibadan, and about 20mins to Iwo road park.
11. For now, you would always arrive in Ibadan at dusk (around 6.30pm), so you need to make provision for your transportation out of the station as it would be dark when you arrive. The ride is currently a 2hrs 30 mins ride. It would be reduced to less than 2 hours after some time. The current speed of an average of 70km/hr is to allow for the soil compartment and safety reasons (people still don’t know about the trains and they still just walk across rail line or graze cattles across). Speed would be increased as time goes on.
12. Currently, there are no cabs to take people from the train station to Moniya town (I couldn’t get uber to send me a cab), so be prepared to trek for about 800 meters before you get to Molarere junction where you would get a tricycle to Moniya town itself, before you can then connect to other areas of Ibadan. So, for elderly people who can’t do the trekking, please arrange a pickup at the train station before you arrive.
13. There are affordable hotels around Moniya, for those who just want to fulfill their curiosity like me. There are fair hotel rooms of 4,000 naira. I slept in one of such.
14. For now, foods or drinks are not served or sold on the train, this is to comply with Covid rules (another reason why VIP ticket is a waste at this time).
15. Consumption of Alcohol is NOT allowed on the train (yes, even if you bring yours in, you can’t drink while in the train).
It was a very smooth and stress free ride. Also very convenient. People going for the Christmas holidays in Abeokuta, Ibadan, Oyo, or Ilorin should use the train service instead of buses, they would find out that traveling during festivities can actually be fun.
Two things that need to be looked into from the beginning :
1. Availability of Online purchase of tickets
2. Prohibition of preaching in the cabins.
By- Otunba Fadairo Olufemi