My mum, my brother and I had planned to spend the holidays in Ibadan. We decided to take the newly commissioned train system and I was ecstatic to see what it was like. If you are not Nigerian, you might not understand the hip-hurray surrounding the rail system but just believe me when I say a revamp has been decades overdue.
We took an uber from Lekki and because Lagos roads are a complete mess, nearly missed the train. After almost 3 hours, we got to the station, which is at the Ebutte Meta railway compound with barely 20 minutes to spare. We were stressed but relieved that we made it. We purchased 3 business class tickets at ₦4,000/$9.77 (cash) each and after showing some valid ID, we were very quickly ushered towards the locomotive. They need to find a way to digitise payments, because cash invites nonsense. Economy costs ₦2,600/$6.35 and first costs ₦5,000/$12.22.
For now, the railway corporation still operates out of their old station but you can see in the background of the photo below that they were working on a new terminal which already looks really great.
Update: They have moved to the new station and it is lovely!
The train leaves at 8am and 4pm everyday (to and from Lagos), so make sure you get there and buy your tickets on time.
The cabins are fully air conditioned and the business class cabin had more than adequate leg and luggage room. The train started moving at exactly 4pm, it's important to note that they do not compromise on this at all.
I settled in my seat (which reclines), set up a mini work-station and started typing this while I soaked in the amazing country side. The endless miles of greenery, the occasional flock of cattle egrets and herds of cattle were a welcome addition to the endlessly picturesque views - we really have a beautiful country.
The toilets are clean and spacious, I made sure to note that as some people are very particular about this.
We had no time to eat because we had to rush over to the station, so we were a bit disappointed to find no snack options. I noticed equipment for refreshments however, so maybe sometime soon.
At about 6:30pm, the train arrived at the Ibadan station which is in Moniya. It's a bit removed from the city so it might be difficult to find an uber/bolt, but there were a number of regular cabs available. You can also get someone to pick you up but I imagine as rail travel increases in popularity, people will catch on and there will be more options.
The entire trip took 2 hours and 30 minutes, so it's not the fastest train I have been on, but it's way better than struggling with lorries on the expressway. There was also a 5 minute stop in Abeokuta and you aren't allowed to get off unless Abeokuta is your destination. There were a number of other stations which hadn't been commissioned yet, and I imagine this will make catching the train a lot more flexible. I will update more information as soon as it's available. They have security officials and an onboard nurse who frequently patrolled throughout the journey and this added an air of security and peace of mind.
It was really refreshing to have another option for interstate travel in Nigeria. I would rather just budget 3 hours in comfort than take a gamble. Between road construction and the redeemed church having frequent events, you could be on the road anywhere between 3 and 6 hours. I fervently hope the quality of the rail system is maintained, it would be a shame to slip back into the bronze-age after so long.
I definitely recommend trying it out, get over that fear! Leave a comment if you enjoyed this.