Rail transport in Nigeria

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The Nigerian Railway map

Railways in Nigeria are operated by the Nigerian Railway Corporation. As of 2003, Nigeria's poorly maintained rail system had 3,557 kilometers of 3 ft 6 in (1,067 mm) gauge track. The country has two major rail lines: one connects Lagos on the Bight of Benin and Nguru in the northern state of Yobe; the other connects Port Harcourt in the Niger Delta and Maiduguri in the northeastern state of Borno. In order to remedy the poor condition, efficiency, and profitability of the nation’s railroads, the government is seeking to privatize the Nigerian Railroad Corporation. Under the privatization plan, three separate concessions of 25–30 years would be granted to private-sector companies to run railroads in the western, central, and eastern regions.

As of early 2013, however, the only operational segment of Nigeria's rail network is between Lagos and Kano.[1][2]


  • narrow gauge: 3,557 km of 3 ft 6 in (1,067 mm) gauge
  • standard gauge: 329 km of 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) gauge


Years of neglect of both the rolling stock and the right-of-way have seriously reduced the capacity and utility of the system. A project to restore Nigeria's railways has been underway since 2009.[3]

A project to convert the gauge of the system to 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) has also somewhat stalled. Couplings of the chopper kind, vacuum brakes and non-roller bearing plain axles are also obsolete.

Railway links with adjacent countries[edit]

There are no railway links with adjacent countries. There were plans to establish rail links to Niger through Illela in Sokoto state and Cameroon, but these have not yet been built.



On the 21st of December 2012, the Nigerian government inaugurated the Nigeria Railway Corporation’s Lagos-Kano intercity passenger train services and haulage of petroleum products.The revitalized Lagos-Kano intercity train services will complement the existing Lagos- Ilorin and Minna-Kano intercity train services. The Managing Director of the NRC, Mr Adeseyi Sijuwade, said that Lagos-Kano Route covered a stretch of 1,126km. “Today, we celebrate a successful completion of track and signalling rehabilitation of the Western Rail Line and the re-commencement of passenger and freight rail services on the Lagos-Kano corridor," he said.



  • February 2007 - Inland Container Depot under construction at Jos.


Contract to rebuild Lagos to Kano railway line

On 30 October 2006 President Olusegun Obasanjo signed a contract with China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation [4] to modernise the Lagos to Kano railway line. This is the first phase of the proposed 3 phase line upgrade. The project has been split up into 5 sections namely Lagos-Ibadan (181 km), Ibadan-Ilorin (200 km), Ilorin-Minna (270 km), Minna–Abuja–Kaduna (360 km), and Kaduna-Kano (305 km). Construction started, but the project was suspended in 2008 following a dispute. A supplementary agreement was signed in September 2012 and may now restart.[5]

Development of inland container depots

On 8 June 2006 development of Inland Container Depots (ICD) was proposed for a number of sites.[6]

China helps with revolutionary "fast" rail

Announced 22 March 2006. In terms of a Memorandum of Understanding signed by Nigeria’s Federal Government on 16 March, the Guangdong Xinguang International Group is to construct a revolutionary “fast” rail (RFR) system from Lagos to the capital Abuja (where there is no existing railway) as well as light rail lines to the Murtala Mohammed International Airport from Lagos city and to Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport from the Abuja city centre. According to the minister of commerce, $US2billion has been made available to start the projects, and the Chinese company will also invest in the three planned stages of the projected Abuja light rail system.[7]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-21364541 BBC News - Can Nigeria's renovated railway unite north and south?
  2. ^ http://www.economist.com/news/middle-east-and-africa/21571481-renovated-railway-line-welcome-more-are-still-sorely-needed-slow The Economist - "Trains in Nigeria: A slow but steady new chug"
  3. ^ Nigerians Take to the Tracks, as Railway Chugs Back to Life, This Day Live, 2012-01-01
  4. ^ http://www.ccecc.com.cn/english
  5. ^ http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/business/2012-09/03/content_15729875.htm
  6. ^ http://www.sunnewsonline.com/webpages/features/money/2006/june/08/money08-06-2006-004.htm
  7. ^ http://www.railwaysafrica.com