When it comes to railway. Africa is still in the industrial age when coal was used to power everything, from ships to train.

Take Nigeria Railway for instance. It was founded by the British Colonial masters in 1898.

That means the railway you see today is 120 years old. Yet, nothing significant had changed. It is the still the same coaches and narrow-gauge tracks left by the British that the trains still run on.

However, significant investment has been made by the government over the past few years to modernise the railway.

That effort has seen the completion of the Abuja-Kaduna standard-gauge rail line and ongoing works on Lagos-Ibadan standard-gauge lines.

Nigeria is not alone. Much of railway in Africa are still vestiges of colonial relics.

In fact, in the whole continent of Africa, there are only 3 countries with functional light railway.

These include:

1. Algiers Capital Tramway:


The Algiers Capital Tramway in Algeria’s Capital, Algiers is Africa’s first light rail system.

The tram system commenced service on May 8, 2011 on part of the yet to be fully completed line in Algiers.

By June 2012, the opened sections had a length of 16.2 kilometres and 28 stops and were operated by ETUSA, the public transport operator for the Algiers metropolitan area, using French Rail Consultant, Alstom Citadis trams – (Alstom Citadis trams also consults for Lagos light rail project).

An extension, to take the tramway to a total length of 23.2 kilometres (14.4 mi), had been under construction.

Also Read: Lagos Light Rail To Begin Operation In 4 Years

The tramway is designed to carry between 150,000 and 185,000 people per day. The system offers a carrying capacity of 6,800 passengers per hour in each direction with a capacity of 400 persons per tram.


2. Addis Ababa Light Rail:


The Addis Ababa Light Rail in Ethiopia’s capital was the first light rail in sub-Saharan Africa.

It is a 17-kilometre line running from the city centre to industrial areas in the south of the city opened on 20 September 2015, inaugurated by former Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn.

Service began on 9 November 2015 for the second line (west-east). The total length of both lines is 31.6 kilometres, with 39 stations. Trains are expected to be able to reach maximum speeds of 70 km/h.

Like Nigeria, Ethiopia built its railway with Chinese loan. The railway was contracted by the China Railway Group Limited.

The Ethiopian Railways Corporation began construction of the double track electrified light rail transit project in December 2011 after securing funds from the Export-Import Bank of China.

The Addis Ababa Light Rail was originally to have a total of 41 stations on its two lines, and each train was planned have a capacity to carry 286 passengers.

This will enable the light rail transit to provide a transportation service to 15,000 passengers per hour per direction (PPHPD) and 60,000 in all four directions. The railway lines have their own dedicated power grid.

3. Abuja Light Rail:

Abuja Rail Mass Transit commonly known as Abuja Light Rail is located in Nigeria’s capital, Abuja.

The first phase of the project connects the city center to Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, stopping at the standard gauge railway station in Idu. President Muhammadu Buhari launched the Abuja Metro Line on July 12, 2018.

It was the first in West Africa and the third on the continent.

The rail cost 840 million dollar and China provided 500-million-dollar loan that was used to kickstart the project.

As at time of commissioning the project, the government had yet to meet its part of the counterpart funding commitment.

The 45.2KM Abuja light rail is a three-dimensional traffic network rail system that runs from the West to the Airport Station at the Abuja International Airport and east to Abuja Metro Station at the Abuja Transportation Centre downtown.

With eight stations, Lot 3 mainly serves the passengers from the Airport to city centre, and those transferred from Lot 1A to the Airport or to the city Centre.

IDU Station is designed as an interchange station where passengers can transfer between Lot 3 and Lot 1A or between Abuja Light Railway and National Railway (Abuja-Kaduna railway).

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