Barring any technical hitches, the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) will in October deploy the two new speed locomotives it acquired for the Abuja-Kaduna standard gauge train service. The locomotives, which arrived Lagos July 25, 2017 arrived Idu, Abuja on August 13, 2017. The off-loading was completed on August 14, 2017.
Our correspondent gathered that by this week, the handing over of the new locomotives by the CCECC to the NRC management will be complete and training commence immediately, followed by test run before commercial deployment. Already, the CCECC has commenced technical evaluation of the two new locomotives before handing them over to NRC.
The newly acquired locomotives are those originally billed to be used on the service. The current locomotive in use is a temporary one which was also used during the construction. The new locomotives are built to travel up to 150km per hour. Once deployed the trains will cut travel time from Abuja-Kaduna from about 2:45 minutes to about 1:30 minutes. Also, the number of daily train services will increase from the present four.
Confirming the development to our correspondent, Mr. Pascal A Nnorli, the NRC Liaison Officer in Abuja, said “By this week, the locomotives should be fully taken over from the Chinese. Once the NRC takes full possession of the two locomotives, the training of Nigerians who will operate them will commence. The training will be done by technical staff of the CCECC just like they did before the train service was launched.”
Currently, the NRC has 488 trained staff working on the Abuja-Kaduna rail corridor compared to CCECC’s 21 technical staff. The NRC also maintains the rail facilities with little technical support from CCECC, especially in track maintenance having acquired the tamping, ballast profiling and ballast distribution machines.
According to Nnorli, “The training should last for about two weeks. After the two weeks training, the locomotives will be test run for about a week before they will be launched for commercial operations. All these processes shouldn’t take more than a month, all things been equal,” he stated.
He explained further that all these steps were needed for safety reasons.
“Once we deploy the new locomotives, we can increase our speed and cut short our travel time from Abuja to Kaduna,” he said.
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