By Adelola Amihere
Passengers in Abuja and Kaduna may soon begin to be able to board a train on an hourly basis as plans are underway by the Nigeria Railway Corporation (NRC) to begin an hourly train service.
Managing Director, NRC, Engr Fidet Okhiria stated this on the sidelines of the burial of the late Chief Security Officer to the Minister of Transportation, Mr Tony Iwelu in Ogwashi-Uku, Delta State over the weekend.
The Abuja to Kaduna train service has since witnessed a surge in the number of passengers who now prefer to travel to and from Abuja to Kaduna via the train putting pressure on the limited coaches deployed for the service.
According to him, the Corporation now rakes in about 200 million monthly out of which he says about 100 million goes into operational cost like fueling, maintenance and cleaning.
He said: “We are adding another set of diesel multiple units to the Abuja Kaduna service. The two present train will remain and by the time we add, there will be an hourly train so that at every hour There will be a train running between Abuja and Kaduna.
“Two locomotives have arrived. You know it’s not easy to move by road, we hope that in the next three weeks, the other two locomotives and eight coaches would have arrived Kaduna. Immediately they will commission them and we will start operations with them. With that we can have the hourly train.”
Responding to whether the train service is still subsidized by government, he explained that “Subsidy cannot be over because if you quantify the cost. Now, we operate with about N100 million every month, like cleaning, washing, security fuelling maintenance.
“The staff are being paid by government. That is why I said if government pays you salary, it’s a subsidy. They also bring the money for ballast. It’s still subsidy.”
Engr Okhiria further clarified that the Lagos Ibadan rail project completion was only slowed down and not stopped according to some media reports.
“The Minister said it is better for people to be alive so monthly inspection is put on hold. Without inspection, the Chinese people won’t work hard.
“And at the time it happened, it was the Chinese spring holiday where most of the Staff working with us traveled to celebrate their new year holiday so those who travelled could not come back. That affected the pace but not that they stopped working.but like I said by the end of April they would have gotten to Ebutte Metta junction. “, he assured