Like I said in my previous post, I took a train to Enugu from Port Harcourt as I wanted the Nigerian train experience. I’ve never been on a railway trip in Nigeria before. My dad says the last one he was on, was when he left Lagos for Jos for his National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) and that was a very long time ago. The Nigerian Railway Corporation basically died after that… well in most places in Nigeria. One could still find trains running within Lagos, and about twelve years ago or so a little part of the Port Harcourt route was revived but died again shortly thereafter.
I wasn’t sure how long the trains were going to last this time in my corner of Nigeria, so I decided to take the trip to Enugu. I originally planned to make use of the week between the just concluded presidential elections and the gubernatorial elections, but services were suspended during the elections for security reasons. At least that’s what I was told.
A train arrives Port Harcourt on Thursday and leaves on Friday for Enugu, its final stop. I was told that at Enugu the train gets cleaned and prepared for the long trip to Kafanchan. This train returns to Port Harcourt on Monday from Enugu and leaves on Tuesday for Kafanchan through Enugu.
So trains leave Port Harcourt by 7:00am two times a week. The Tuesday train gets to Kafanchan but the Friday train stops at Enugu. Trains arrive at the Port Harcourt station on Mondays and on Thursdays.
I paid for a first class ticket to Enugu. The ticket cost N1050 which I thought was cheap. The first class cabin was air conditioned and also had AC wall sockets for charging electronic devices.
We left the train station at 7:00am and got to Enugu at 3:30pm instead of the 2:00pm arrival time that the railway officials initially gave to me. In my opinion, I think this was because of the number of times the train had to slowdown or stop completely for people to get off the tracks. Even with all the slowdowns and stoppages the train still totalled a car in Enugu. Don’t worry, the driver got out unscathed; can’t say the same for his car.
There was an armed policeman onboard who worked with the officials to make sure passengers had the right tickets on them. He had no uniform on except his AK47 though. He would throw side glances at moving passengers and even followed some passengers like a security guard at a high street fashion retailer.
Some passengers had to be sent to the other cabins from the first class cabin as they didn’t have first class tickets on them. I didn’t visit the restaurant as I usually don’t eat when I travel, ditto the toilets.
The trains were okay; at least the first class cabin was, even though the arm rests for the seats look like those on Aero Contractor flights of yesteryears Parts were falling off the armrests and tapes were being used to hold them in place.
I was a bit worried because of the remote locations we had to go through, and the number of times the train had to slowdown or stop. Getting stuck in a remote location with no village for miles wasn’t my idea of a nice weekend. Imagine if you had to visit five (5) states in a day and you were given Arik Air tickets. The feeling you would get at the bottom of your stomach knowing you might not make it, that’s how it felt like using the train with all the slowing down and stoppages.
I think do think it is a comfortable and safe way to travel and I will be giving it another go very soon.
Hope you like the pictures.