The International Steam Pages

Nigerian Railways 2007

Thomas Kautzor reports on his visit between 16th and 21st November, 2007:

General Information:

Presently, apart from the Lagos commuter services, the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) does not operate any scheduled passenger service, although passenger trains can be chartered. These charters often take place around major holidays, when a large part of the nation is on the move to visit their hometowns and villages.

Goods traffic consists mainly fertilizers, animal feed and construction materials from Port Harcourt upcountry, as well as cement from Aba.


The Lagos commuter service, named “Mass Rapid Transit (MRT)”, is run by NRC for the Lagos State Government, using six rakes of ten coaches. Trains depart from Alagbado (km. 25) in Ogun State in the morning, with three trains each going into Lagos Terminus station on Iddo Island, and three into Apapa station near Lagos Harbour. In the afternoon the trains depart for Alagbado from both terminals at 5, 6 and 7 pm. The service was inaugurated in July 2007 and daily capacity is 9000 passengers.

Ebute Metta Junction, where the lines from Lagos and Apapa join together, is the site of the NRC headquarters, the main workshops and the diesel loco shed, all within the extensive Railway Compound. Between here and Lagos Terminus is Ebute Metta station, where the C&W workshop has been handed over to local NGO LEGACY as the site for the planned Railway Museum. An officer’s bungalow within the railway compound has also been donated to LEGACY and is used as their headquarters and office.

The collection at the museum consists of:

2-8-2 No. 207 “River Delimi” Vulcan Foundry 1954;
2-8-2 No. 211 “River Karaduwa” Vulcan Foundry 6218/1954; (pictured below)
2-8-2 No. 217 “River Swashi” Vulcan Foundry 6198/1954.

2614 SYP four-wheel covered van;
10207 BVB frame of bogie brake van, to be used for the restoration of Inspection Coach No. 92035 (body only, not seen);
90001 AP bogie coach, wooden body;
90003 AP Special Coach, wooden body;
90016 AP Inspection Coach;
92027 BP Inspection Coach.

No. 211 was the last operational NRC steam locomotive, running excursions up until October 2003, when it ran to Alagbado (km 25) with ten coaches. Since then her driver has passed away and she has not run again. All three locos are in a very bad shape, as they have been the victims of vandals since they were moved from the relatively secure location at the diesel running shed at Ebute Metta Jn. to the museum site in 2004. All the smaller metal parts (as well as most of the builder’s and name plates) have been removed, and now the thieves have started cutting off the motion. As some parts have been cut off but were still lying around, it can be concluded that this is a work in progress.

Present outside the diesel running shed at Ebute Metta Jn. is 2-8-2 No. 174 “River Gudi” (NBL 26252/1948), which was not moved to the museum site and as a result is now the best preserved loco of the four. 

No. 174 and 217 are oil-fired, while No. 207 and 211 are coal-fired.

Diesel locos noted at Ebute Metta Jn. diesel running shed on November 21, 2007 included (list not complete):

1101-1125 class (25 units, EMD G12 Co’Co’-de, 1958/59, 1425/1310 h.p.):
1105, 1106, 1122, 1124

1126-1155 class (30 units, EMD GL22CU Co’Co’-de, 1977, 1650/1500 h.p.) :
1132, 1135, 1137, 1139, 1143

1161-1162 class (2 units, GMDL NF-210 Co’Co’-de, 1956/60, 1200 h.p.) :
1161, 1162
These two units where obtained from CANAC in 1990 after having been refurbished at Bombardier. They are ex-Terra Transport/CN Newfoundland Nos. 927/943.

1900 class (ABB-Henschel DE 2550, 1992/93):
1907 (awaiting repairs – turbocharger)

2001-2005 class (5 units, Hyundai Co’Co’-de, 1991-3 ?):
2001 (towed in for repairs)

2101-2110 class (10 units, Dalian CKD8A Co’Co’-de high hood, 1996-99, 3000/2450 h.p.):
2101, 2103, 2105, 2107

2111-2150 class (40 units, Dalian CKD8A Co’Co’-de low hood, 1996-99, 3000/2450 h.p.):
2111 (working), 2115, 2132, 2137, 2139, 2142, 2143, 2149, 2150

All of the above diesel units, except where noted, were either derelict and awaiting scrapping or stored awaiting parts. The availability of the Chinese-built locos is very low, as there was no provision for spare parts procurement when these were delivered.

A Ransomes & Rapier steam crane was at the running shed and another was said to be at the workshops, which were not visited, both marked for the museum.

A piece of track from the Lagos Steam Tramway (2’6” gauge) is preserved at LEGACY’s bungalow. It was donated by Julius Berger (Nigeria) after it was recovered during road construction work on Lagos Island.


This major junction between the line from Port Harcourt to Kaduna and the line to Maiduguri, as well as the branch line to Jos, was visited on Nov. 18. The aim was to check if any steam locos (including a Garratt) previously reported at this location ten years earlier were still in existence, however according to local NRC staff, the steam dump had been cleared in 2004. However, bits and pieces from steam locomotives could still be seen lying around where they were scrapped next to the Diesel Loco Shed.

Kafanchan Diesel Loco Shed has an allocation of 920 class shunters and 1700 class main-line locos, of which the following were noted inside the shed:

921-962 class (42 units, Brush 0-6-0DE, 1973-4/77-8, 400/364 h.p.):
932, 938 + 2 units dumped outside

1701-1754 class (54 units, MLW MX615 1Co’Co1’-de, 1972/3/5, 1674/1500 h.p.):
1710, 1727, 1730, 1732, 1735, 1747 + 2 units in an adjacent shed

None of these units were said to be serviceable. Also present were two Chinese-built inspection railcars (including No. 101), a small four-wheel inspection trolley and break-down cranes No. 33 (Cowans-Sheldon 1974) and No. 36 (Caillard).

At the station there was a large number of goods wagons, as well as a long rake of passenger cars. According to staff, the station saw a train (goods) about once a month.


Jos is located at the end of a short branch from Kafanchan and Kuru. The station was visited on November 19. According to staff, the last passenger train left Jos in 2003. Goods trains reportedly run about once a month, and present in the station was a short rake of covered bogie vans, plus a brake van. The one-road loco shed is disused. The pictures show the 'heritage items' around the station - the BLR (see below) used the 'empty track in the shed.

Up to September 1957, the narrow gauge Bauchi Light Railway (BLR) used to run from Jos north to Zaria, a distance of 133 miles. After its closure the following locos and rolling stock has been preserved at the National Museum, Jos:

0-6-0T No. 4 (Hunslet 1414/1921), named “Dan Zaria”

0-6-2 No.56 (Kitson 5131/1914), together with its six-wheel tender

103 FPB 1st & 2nd class composite coach (BRC&W 1920)

62 PPB 3rd class coach (Leeds Forge Co. Ltd. 1921)

1WPB bogie covered van (BRC&W 1913)

All of the these items are preserved under cover and in relative good condition, still with their builder’s plates present. The 0-6-2 and the rolling stock form a train at a platform at the end of a 150-yard stretch of track, with the 0-6-0T at the other end. Also present, though dismantled, are two rail bicycles. A Thetford Burrell & Sons Ltd. steam traction engine is also preserved at the museum.


The running shed at Enugu, also named the “Coal City” because it has the only workable coal deposit in Nigeria, was visited on November 20. The following steam locomotives could be found here:

0-6-0T No. 5 Bagnall 2335/1928

2-8-2 No. 104? “River Oyun” Vulcan Foundry 5619/1947
2-8-2 No. 157 “River Belwa” NBL 1949/50

2-8-2 No. 221 “River Yunko” Vulcan Foundry 1955

0-6-0T No. 5, although plinthed under a shed, is in poor condition. It carries a plate “Enugu Works Engine”. No. 221 was the last steam locomotive built for Nigeria. All three ‘Rivers’ class locos are coal fired. Although No.157 is the best preserved, a few years ago a committee was set up to restore No. 221 to working condition in order to able to run steam excursions around Enugu, but later work on it stopped. Because it stands away from the shed and is surrounded by vegetation, some important parts have since gone missing from it. No. 157 is stored just next to the shed and according to the CME it could easily be made serviceable. No. 104 is in scrap condition (but still has its builder’s plate).

Also according to the CME, an NRC ‘scrapping’ committee from Ebute Metta recently came to see what assets could be sold and decided that only one of the steam locos should remain at Enugu. Upon his insistence that these were part of the national heritage and should not be disposed of, they agreed to reconsider their decision, but no final word has been heard from them yet.

Diesel locomotives seen at Enugu shed:

921-962 class (42 units, Brush 0-6-0DE, 1973-4/77-8, 400/364 h.p.) 
954, 962, 964 (?)

1807-1851 class (45 units, GE U18C Co’Co’-de, 1976/7, 1950/1820 h.p.) :
1808, 1816, 1826, 1831, 1833, 1835, 1838, 1844, 1846, 1847

2111-2150 class (40 units, Dalian CKD8A Co’Co’-de low hood, 1996-99, 3000/2450 h.p.):
2113, 2117, 2118, 2122, 2125, 2127, 2128, 2147

Here again, most diesel locomotives were non-runners. Also present were Chinese-built inspection railcars Nos. 113 and 119, and break-down crane No. 1 (Caillard ?).

Other preserved steam locos (not seen):

According to various members of NRC staff, a steam locomotive is preserved at Zaria shed. It is said to be a tank engine.

At Minna station, Wushishi Tramway (WT) 2’6” gauge 0-6-0T No. 1 (Hunslet 1901) is plinthed inside a metal cage on the station platform. This was the first steam locomotive in Northern Nigeria.

At Jebba, where the Lagos to Kano main line crosses the Niger River on two bridges, 0-8-0T No. 72 is on display at the station. It was however already in very bad condition in 1998.

There is a picture on the internet of two 0-8-0Ts Nos. 86 & 94 (Hunslet 1948/49) at Gombe station, on the line from Kafanchan to Maiduguri, dating from 1999. It is unknown if these locos still exist.


Photography of railway installations is a crime in Nigeria, and police will arrest you or demand payment if caught. It is therefore recommended to request prior authorization from either the General Manager, Nigeria Railways, at Ebute Metta, or from the regional district superintendents.

Rob Dickinson