Abuja – Some passengers at Idu Railway Station in the FCT on Saturday called the Federal Government to provide additional coaches to Abuja-Kaduna rail line to meet their travelling need.
The station on Saturday witnessed an upsurge of passengers travelling to Kaduna ahead of new year celebration on Sunday.
At the Idu terminal on Saturday, many passengers were unable to get ticket to board the 7 a.m. train to Kaduna.
A passenger, Mr Donatius Mailafia, while urging government to provide more coaches, said he bought his ticket on Friday to be able to meet up.
Mailafia, who described the Abuja-Kaduna line as big relief for passengers, said it was safer to travel by train than by road.
He urged government to extend rail lines to every part of the country to reduce the pressure and the rate of accident on the road.
According to him, no country can develop fast without rail transportation and so Nigeria should be talking about building new rail lines by now.
“I am happy that we are now looking at railway because it is safe, fast and convenient and I am sure if it is provided in every city, the pressure on the roads will reduce,’’ he said.
Another passenger, Hajiya Ramatu Bello, said she enjoyed travelling in train than road and urged the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) to deploy more coaches and locomotives on the rail line.
Bello said many people who wanted to travel by train to Kaduna could not do so for want of available seats.
She also commended President Muhammadu Buhari for paying attention to rail transportation in the 2017 budget.
The Operations Manager of the station, Mr Victor Adamu, said that the station had been experiencing an influx of passengers throughout the festive period.
Adamu said that the current carrying capacity of the train could not take care of the number of travellers.
He explained that the current capacity stood at 1,500 passengers per day, adding that NRC was trying its best to satisfy the passengers within its limited capacity.
According to him, Nigerians really appreciate the Federal Government for introducing the rail service but NRC has to go another step ahead to see that more coaches are provided.
“This is because, Nigerians have shown that the railway is the most attractive means of transportation for the country.
“So, we just have to look into that to see how we can make it so that more Nigerians would have the benefit of travelling by train by increasing the capacity.
“Right now, we move two round trips; in the morning, the train departs Idu station by 7 a.m. and gets to Rigasa which is our train station in Kaduna State by 9.40 a.m.
“The train departs Rigasa by 10.40 a.m. back to Idu station by 1.20 p.m.
“In the last trip, the train departs Idu station by 2.20 p.m., arrive at Rigasa station by 5 p.m. and departs Rigasa by 6 p.m. To finally arrive Idu station by 8.40 p.m.
“The business class costs N900, while the economy class costs N600 and there is no hike during Christmas,’’ he said.
It would be recalled that the Managing Director of NRC, Mr Fidet Okhiria, had disclosed that the corporation was in the process of bringing in the second locomotive and more coaches to increase carriage capacity.
Okhiria said the corporation would also deploy a 150-kilometre-per hour locomotive on Abuja-Kaduna rail gauge to meet passengers’ demand.
He said that once the design specification was confirmed by the engineers, the corporation would start making arrangements for its shipment and subsequent deployment.