In this post, I’ll be sharing my experience on the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) train from Kaduna to Abuja. I have travelled by road to a couple of places in Nigeria. My furthest trips were, down south to Lagos, Imo State in the East and Kaduna in the North Central region. This was my first ever train ride in Nigeria and so I was quite excited about it.
GETTING TO RIGASA TRAIN STATION
The train station in Kaduna is at Rigasa. It’s about a 25-minutes drive from Kaduna city centre. The train was scheduled to leave by 10:35 to arrive Idu, Abuja by 13:20. I got to the train station about 45 minutes earlier.
There’s a checkpoint, where my bag got checked before I went to the ticket counter. Getting tickets was straightforward and orderly, you’ll need an ID card to purchase a ticket. I didn’t have one on me, but I had a pdf copy of my passport page on my phone and that was okay. There’s an economy class ticket which goes for about 1300 naira and a business class ticket for 2500 naira.
There was a waiting room, where we stayed for a bit before we were called to board the train. I just waited outside so I can’t say how it was inside. Boarding started around 10:15 and the train attendants on the platform were on hand to direct passengers to their coaches. That was helpful, cause my ticket only had my class and seat number indicated on it.
I got a business class ticket, the coach was clean, it had two toilets and a small canteen for snacks. The coach also had adequate headroom/luggage racks. The train was scheduled for 10:35 am and we did leave on time. We had a train officer come up to check and punch our tickets. I should warn you that the network was out after about 6 minutes within the train leaving the train station, I’m not sure when it returned but it was on and off, so it’s actually possible to still use your mobile data and make calls. There was on board entertainment, that was not expected, it was a recent movie, but I can’t remember the title.We had minor delays at two stops, and it was nice having the operator aunty inform the passengers on why we were being delayed. Asides a little boy behind me who was occasionally kicking my chair and a few noisy Chinese passengers, everything else went smoothly.
Contrary to my expectations, which I had because of the unrest in Kaduna and my reading of the book, the passport of Mallam Ilia, there were no horse riders, nor sons of the caliphate nor any ruffians harassing the train or its passengers. The scenery consisted of farmlands, cattle and their herders, eroded lands, some villages and little children waving at the moving train (here’s a short story; My family home in Benue is just behind a rail track, so when we were little, we also ran out to wave at the passengers once we heard the trains passing, so that brought back fond memories). The scenery also had a few quarries and finally the beautiful woodland and tall grass Savannah of North Central Nigeria.
GETTING TO IDU
My ticket showed the final destination as Kubwa, but Kubwa was just one of the stops in Abuja. So we had some passengers getting off from there. However, the final stop in Abuja is Idu, which is where I got off from.The train station isn’t actually far out of Abuja. It’s just a bit inside, in an area which hasn’t been populated and developed yet. It took me about 20 minutes to get back to my place of residence, which is also in the city. I thought getting a ride would be easy. It’s not. I had to negotiate with one of the green car taxi drivers and paid 2000 naira which was close to the same price I got my train ticket for. Maybe I was just a bad negotiator. Regardless, the lesson here is that you ought to organise your ride from the train station before arriving there. Uber is always a good idea, but the network wouldn’t allow me to access uber, so I had to settle for what was available. One other advice, if you have heavy luggage, get ready for the up and down climbing of the stairs upon getting to Idu. Although, I think there was a lift, sorry, i’m not too sure about that.
Finally, it was a great ride. I love that we departed on time and got there around the time we were scheduled to arrive. The place was neat, seats were comfortable, more comfortable than you would get on a commercial public car or bus. So the NRC Kaduna to Abuja express train is quite convenient, if you transport to and fromboth train stations has been sorted out. The train ride was nice and efficient,and I love that you can sit with enough legroom and walk whenever you want toand also lay down. My coach wasn’t that full, so a few minutes after thejourney began, the man sitting next to me moved to an empty seat and I had thewhole two seats to myself.
And now, just a little history: The Kaduna to Abuja train route opened sometime in 2016, the trains operate daily and frequency is more on the weekends. You can also access the NRC website for the train schedules, fares and any other services being offered. You can also check the states that the NRC trains operate in and any news updates.
Hope it was a fun read for you. Cheers!!