THE Nigeria Railway Corporation (NRC) on Wednesday commenced its maiden free trial run aboard the Abuja-Kaduna standard gauge rail track.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reported that the corporation took delivery of three 80-passenger capacity standard gauge coaches, one 56-passenger capacity executive coach and one Parcel/Guard van coach on March 2.
The trial ride, which took off from the corporation’s Idu Station in Abuja at 8:27a.m. traversed the NRC stations at Kuchibon, Asham, Jere, Gidan, Rijauna, Dutse, Kakau and arrived in Rigasa in Kaduna at 12.42 p.m.
An individual standard coach which is 1,437mm as against the 1,067mm of the narrow gauge in width has a 57.2 tare weight with 150 km/h speed.
Mr Fidet Okhiria, Managing Director, who described the trial as successful, said that the purpose was to perform strategic inspection and attract passenger traffic.
“It is the first time we are running passenger train on standard gauge and that makes it unique. I can say so far, so good, the ride was smooth.
“The speed is going to be improved upon from 100 Km/h to 150 Km/h when the passenger locomotives come, say, September, because the locomotive we are using now is the one used for construction.
“We delayed the train because we were carrying out some strategic inspection to find out what is not in the station presently and what we need to add.
“We need to add more seats, not for the passengers (because that one is in place) but for comfort of our staff,’’ Okhiria said.
“However, from now till the commissioning date we invite people to ride in the train from Abuja to Kaduna and Kaduna back to Abuja.”
“The Abuja motor park union have agreed to have park at Idu Station so that they will be moving passengers from back and forth the city and this will also encourage intermodal means of transport.’’
Okhiria, who said the free trial for passengers will end in two weeks, added that “the business class will cost N900, while the standard class is N600.”
On security, he said that both private security operatives and the Nigeria Police would be deployed by June 27 to support the various stations’ security arrangements.
“The stations are fenced, so people cannot just start jumping in like we have in Lagos,’’ he added.
Okhiria also said that the revival of rail transportation was important to the growth of the nation’s economy.
Mr Lv Feng, the General Manager, Chinese Civil Engineering and Construction Company, Abuja Regional Office, said the company put in measures to guarantee passenger safety.
A passenger, Mrs Felicita Isiwele, who joined the train at Kubwa, described the ride as a fulfilled experience.