Saturday, May 28, 2022

Sanwo Olu gets second-hand trains for Lagos rail lines

The trains were intended for use since 2009 when Wisconsin’s then-Governor Jim Doyle announced a deal with Talgo for two new trains to be built.

• January 19, 2022
Babajide Sanwo-Olu
Babajide Sanwo-Olu

Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos has secured two unused high-speed rail trains from Wisconsin in the United States for its train system. 

The trains originally to connect railroads between Madison and Milwaukee were announced to have been purchased on Tuesday, when Mr Sanwo-Olu visited Milwaukee.

The Talgo’s Series 8 trains have been purchased for Lagos’ red line system, as noted in the statement released by Mr Sanwo-Olu. The red line, a 37-km track with 11 stations, will be the first operational metro system in West Africa. 

Acting Milwaukee Mayor Cavalier Johnson welcomed Mr Sanwo-Olu at an event at the Milwaukee facilities of Spanish train manufacturer Talgo.

“I’m sending my congratulations to the governor in Lagos State in Nigeria, but also a little disappointed that we missed out on the opportunity to have those trainsets operating here in Milwaukee and in Wisconsin,” Mr Johnson said.

The trains were intended for use since 2009 when Wisconsin’s then-Governor Jim Doyle announced a deal with Talgo for two new trains to be built and used for a high-speed rail line between Milwaukee and Madison. The plans fell through when Scott Walker became governor of Wisconsin. 

In 2012, Talgo terminated the contract and sued the state leading to a court dispute that lasted almost three years but ended in a settlement where the state paid the company $50 million, and the trains remained under the company’s ownership.

Mr Sanwo-Olu’s intent to have the Lagos blue and red lines rail system up and running by the fourth quarter of this year followed the failure of previous administrations to improve public transportation. 

The project, part of the Lagos Urban Transportation Project, is being handled by the Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority (LAMATA). The contract is executed by China’s state-owned China Civil Engineering Construction Corp (CCECC), expected to hand over by December 31, 2022. 

The Lagos blue line project was inaugurated in 2003 under the Bola Tinubu administration and has seen multiple delays. 

In 2018, the Akinwunmi Ambode administration claimed it had spent between 100 million euros and 200 million euros on the rail project since it was inherited from the previous administration. This statement was disputed by Mr Sanwo-Olu last year, who claimed that his predecessor had not funded the rail project. 

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