The Managing Director, Lagos State Metropolitan Area Transport Authority (LAMATA), Mr Abimbola Akinajo, said the State Government had commenced the test running of the 13 km Lagos Blue Line Rail Service train.
Akinajo disclosed this at the commencement of the test running in Lagos on Monday from Marina to Mile 2.
She said that the exercise would last between two to three months, to enable Lagos residents to enjoy the free ride before commencing the full rail operation in April.
Akinajo said the test running would be carried out three times in a week over the next two months.
“The test-run is open for Lagosians from all walks of life to board the train and have a feel of its comfort.
“Market men and women, artisans, students, members of the media, and other professionals are being invited to enjoy the free train ride.
“Any Nigerian who wishes to join the free train ride should send their email address to LAMATA to enable us book them for the free ride within the week,” Akinajo said.
According to her, rail transport is not as direct bus system; there are a lot of things that are involved and all these.
“We must ensure we put them in top shape before we begin commercial operation.”
She said that the authority expected feedback from all categories of people such as traders, university students, primary, secondary school during the test run before starting the commercial operation.
The LAMATA boss said the automatic processing unit could process 250 passengers every minute, adding that the schedule was to have a train position to run every three minutes.
Akinajo said that the capacity of the train would continue to be met by the government, based on the surge in demand.
“For the first phase, the Blue Light train will be able to carry between 200,000 to 250,000 passengers daily based on the availability of rolling stock.
” Right now, the government has purchased three rolling stocks, while another six may be purchased when the second phase is completed by the government.
“Operations would run from 5.30 a.m. to 11p.m. everyday. The system is designed to run a train in three minutes.
” During rush hours we will pull more trains, while during off peak periods we would pull off the operation,” Akinajo said.
She said that government was still working on the template that would make the train affordable to the people, based on the current situation in the country.
The LAMATA boss said that the fare had not been set by the government, adding that when it eventually did, government would ensure it reflected the prevailing circumstances and was affordable, and friendly for residents.
The Lagos Central Senatorial Candidate of APC, Mr Wasiu Esinlokun-Sanni, said the Blue Line train would help improve shuttle time of the people from the Mile 2 axis into Lagos Island.
He commended Presidential candidate of the APC, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu whose team, conceptualised the train system and his successors for working on the dream to bring them into reality.
Also, the Permanent Secretary, Lagos State Ministry of Transportation, Mr Abdulhafiz Toriola, said the government was excited that it eventually delivered on the project.
He said the Red line was also on stream and would be delivered anytime soon.
Toriola said the efforts and priority of the government were to decongest the roads and allow other modes of transportation to have equitable share of the transportation needs of the people of Lagos.
He said all these were in line with the Lagos State Transportation Master plan and the government would continue to ensure that it puts an eye at ensuring the sustainability of the train systems in the interest of the people.
The Managing Director of Lagos Bus Services Limited, Mr Idowu Oguntola, said he was excited to be on the train.
Oguntola said he could see the huge opportunity that lay ahead for Lagosians, when the Blue and Red lines eventually came on stream.
He said he was looking forward to how the Lagos buses would partner in the huge prospects ahead in the interest of the people, to make mobility a lot easier and reduce traffic congestion.
General Manager, Lagos State Waterways Authority, LASWA, Mr Oluwadamilola Emmanuel, praised the foresight of the government to come up with the integration of all modes of transportation.
He said LASWA and LAGFERRY were poised to exploit the interchange opportunities for the benefit of the people.
Emmanuel said that LAMATA had assured of the need for integration on transportation at any rail terminal, adding that the Mile 2 and Marina interchange would encourage the use of rail, water and land transportation.
Prof. Iyiola Oni, Director of the Institute of Transportation, University of Lagos, also on the train ride, was excited that the Sanwo-Olu administration delivered on the Blue line train in spite of the shoe-string budget within which it operated.
He said the new train system, and the Red line that would be inaugurated shortly, would be a catalyst for the improved economy of the state, and help improve travel patterns as transportation could be redistributed equitably to all modes.
Some Ministry of Transportation officials, seasoned academia, top government functionaries, journalists, University of Lagos students among others, witnessed the flag-off of the system at the Marina Train Station, Lagos.