On Wednesday last week, the state government announced that it had acquired two new sets of 10 cars Talgo 330kmph trains for its Red Line rail project, as part of efforts to improve traffic management and transportation.
The governor completed the acquisition deal of the two new speed trains on January 18 at an event held inside the Milwaukee facilities of Spanish train manufacturer, Talgo Incorporated in the United States.
He had informed the audience at the event that the trains would be heading to Lagos for the 37km track rail project expected to have 11 stations and be the first operational metro system in West Africa when completed.
Giving further insights into the operations of the trains during Friday’s interview, Governor Sanwo-Olu explained that the government would be completing testing of the coaches soon.
According to him, they are also in the process of ensuring a seamless process for residents whereby they will use just one card to pay for their rides either by road, water, or rail.
“We will probably be doing some test runs by the end of this (fourth) quarter and if we can’t start getting people on, you will see tickets being issued on our rail tracks,” said Governor Sanwo-Olu.
“So, we can continue to now start implementing the transportation master plan for Lagos where rails work, the BRTs will continue to increase in number, and the waterways infrastructure will be [operational].
“The beauty of it is that we are trying to have a common system where it will be with one card that you can hop in and hop off on all of these networks … and that is almost happening now with the cowry card being used on the buses.”
The Lagos State government has acquired two new high-speed trains for its Red Line rail project, as part of efforts to improve traffic management and transportation.
Mr Gboyega Akosile, who is the Chief Press Secretary to Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, disclosed this in a statement on Wednesday.
He revealed that Governor Sanwo-Olu completed the acquisition deal of the two sets of 10 cars Talgo 330kmph trains on Tuesday at an event held inside the Milwaukee facilities of Spanish train manufacturer, Talgo Incorporated in the United States.
According to him, the trains will be heading to Lagos for the Red Line – a 37km track rail project which will have 11 stations and will be the first operational metro system in West Africa, when completed.
“A train is not something you can just go on the shelf and pick up,” the governor was quoted as saying at the event. “We are very lucky to get brand new trains. We have seen our beautiful white and red trains. Coincidentally, the rail line is called Red Line and you can see they have given us the colour. We are just going to brand it and put up our seal there.”
“We hope that this (purchase of the trains) will be the beginning of a mutually beneficial business relationship. Providing source of livelihood for our citizens is all about providing jobs for our people and that is what we are doing. It is about ensuring that we can build our economy; people can move from one location to another, and businesses can grow.
“Part of what we have done in the last two and half years is to have what we call Integrated Urban Mass transportation system, where we will be using road infrastructure, waterway infrastructure, and rail infrastructure so that we can move over 20 million Lagosians within and around the city.”
Governor Sanwo-Olu said his team was in Milwaukee to see things for themselves in respect of the purchase of the trains, adding that they have inspected the trains, seen their configuration, and were satisfied that they fit into the tracks of the Red Line in Lagos.
He gave an assurance that the first phase of the Red Line would begin by the last quarter of 2022 or the first quarter of 2023, with a capacity of 500,000 passengers daily.
The acting Milwaukee Mayor, Cavalier Johnson, who received Governor Sanwo-Olu in the city, said “It is a little bittersweet.
“I am sending my congratulations to the Governor of Lagos State in Nigeria, but also a little disappointed that we missed out on the opportunity to have those train sets operating here in Milwaukee and in Wisconsin.”
For the CEO and President of Talgo, USA, Antonio Perez, it is important that the trains are utilised and it does not make any good for them to be stored and kept without passengers riding them.
Governor Sanwo-Olu was accompanied by the Lagos State Commissioner for Transportation, Dr Frederic Oladeinde; his Special Adviser on Works, Aramide Adeyoye, and Managing Director of Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority (LAMATA), Abimbola Akinajo.
At least 32 people were killed and 66 injured Friday when two passenger trains collided in southern Egypt, the health ministry said, the latest deadly rail accident to hit the country.
President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi pledged tough punishment for those responsible for the crash, which came as his government wrestles with another major transport challenge, a giant container ship blocking the Suez Canal and causing huge traffic jams at either end.
The health ministry said dozens of ambulances rushed to the scene in the Tahta district of Sohag province, some 460 kilometres (285 miles) south of the capital Cairo after the two trains collided.
“32 people were killed and 66 injured” and transported to hospital, the statement said.
Dozens of people gathered around an overturned carriage lying on its side. Springs and twisted metal jutted out from the wreckage of another, an AFP correspondent reported.
Egypt’s rail authority said that unidentified passengers had “activated emergency brakes in several carriages” causing the collision.
At least two carriages overturned between the stations of Maragha and Tahta, it said in a statement.
One train was travelling between the southern city of Luxor and Alexandria on the Mediterranean coast while the other was travelling between Cairo and the southern city of Aswan.
Health Minister Hala Zayed travelled to Sohag to check on the injured, as authorities opened an investigation into the circumstances of the accident.
President Sisi vowed “deterrent punishment” for anyone found responsible for the collision.
“Anyone who caused this painful accident through negligence or corruption, or anything similar, must receive a deterrent punishment without exception or delay,” he said in a tweet.
Egypt has been plagued with deadly train accidents in recent years that have been widely blamed on inadequate infrastructure and poor maintenance.
One of the deadliest occurred in 2002 when 373 people died as a fire ripped through a crowded train south of Cairo, and there have been many fatal crashes since.
Train crashes, Suez shutdown
In March last year, at least 13 people were injured when two passenger trains collided in Cairo, triggering a brief suspension of rail services nationwide.
At the time rail managers blamed the crash on signals not functioning in bad weather.
And in February 2019, a train derailed and caught fire at Cairo’s main railway station, killing at least 22 people and injuring 41, and prompting the transport minister, Hisham Arafat, to resign.
The following month, the president appointed a senior military officer, General Kamel al-Wazir, to head the transport ministry.
Wazir had been the head of the Egyptian military’s engineering authority since 2015.
The unit is behind many of the army’s mega-projects. including a new capital east of Cairo and construction of everything from hospitals to sewage treatment plants.
Since he took office in 2014, Sisi has appointed military officers to high-ranking positions, including governorships.
He has repeatedly praised the military’s role in delivering major projects in record time such as the expansion of the Suez Canal in August 2015.
The strategic waterway has made headlines since Tuesday, when the container ship MV Ever Given — which is longer than four football fields — got stuck across the entire canal shutting the vital shipping lane in both directions.
The blockage has caused huge traffic jams at either end of the 193-kilometre (120-mile) long canal and major delays in the delivery of oil and other products.
Tugboats and dredgers were working Friday to free the vessel as companies were forced to re-route services from the Suez Canal around the southern tip of Africa.
Egypt’s Suez Canal Authority said the vessel veered off course and ran aground when winds reaching 40 knots whipped up a sandstorm that affected visibility.
“Walking on railway tracks and putting on headphones is banned in the country. Still a lot of people ignore the ban and are killed by trains,” Dhaka rail police chief Yeasin Faroque Mozumder told AFP.
Fatalities hit a record high in 2014 when 109 people died. Numbers have declined since thanks to an awareness campaign, but police said 54 people were still killed in this way last year.
Morshed Alam, the deputy railway police chief, said they have held awareness rallies and processions, distributing leaflets and warning people with loudhailers.
“But people still walk on the tracks as if they were unaware of fatal consequences,” he said.
Hundreds of thousands of slum dwellers also live on land next to railway tracks in shacks made of tarpaulin and bamboo. Many makeshift food stalls are also dangerously close.
Alam said it is “impossible” to secure the tracks unless people cooperate with them.
According to police, nearly 6,000 people died in railway accidents and suicides on the country’s 2,800-kilometres (1,730-mile) rail network in the last six and a half years.
In neighbouring India, home to one of the world’s largest rail networks, some 25,000 people lose lives due to accidents and suicides on railways every year. There are however no specific figures on people killed while using headphones.