Everything You Need to Know Before Your Next Train Ride to Ibadan (from Lagos) in 2021

A comprehensive guide to the National Railway Corporation’s Lagos-Ibadan train service

At Lagos Station: A view of the Lagos-Ibadan train on the way to the platform

Like you, once I heard about the Lagos-Ibadan train, my curiosity piqued and I started planning for my trip. During my pre-departure research, it was difficult finding information online. The National Railway Corporation’s website is slow and difficult to navigate, their Twitter page does not allow direct messages, and the contact details provided on their website were always engaged. This frustrated me and I almost cancelled my trip in its entirety. Fortunately, I knew of a few people who had made this journey a month before me (in December). So, I contacted them and got all the information I would need to prepare for my visit to Ibadan.

Yet, I am aware that intending travellers like you may not have someone to talk to and may become frustrated like me. As a result, you may want to write off the service completely. I do not want you to miss out, so, I have documented my experience and included useful tips in this guide for your next journey on the new Lagos-Ibadan train.

Things to pack:

I spent one-night in Ibadan and returned to Lagos the following morning. So, everything I needed fit into a medium-sized duffle bag. I packed a bunch of items in my bag based on my preferences. They were: toiletries, my journal, a book, nightwear, toilet roll, bedsheet, allergy and pain medication and change of clothes for the next day. The image below shows the specific items packed for my one-night trip.

Flat lay of items packed for the train journey
  • Duffle bag:

The stations are still under construction and the paths to the train are not tarred. So, I do not recommend carrying luggage with wheels. Or you might end up lifting like the travellers pictured below.

Travellers carrying luggage with wheels at Ebute-Metta, Lagos station (on the left) and at Moniya, Ibadan station (on the Right)
  • Water:

Take water with you in case you get thirsty on the train. It may even be useful when you get to your accommodation.

  • Cash (mandatory):

Have a minimum of ₦ 5,000 (Standard), ₦ 10,000 (Business) and ₦ 12,000 (First) for your train fare (see ‘Ticket prices and Payments’ below).

  • Driver’s License (mandatory):

I took my driver’s license as identification (ID) but I am sure your international passport and National Identification Number (NIN) qualify as ID as well.

  • Power bank:

There are sockets on the train (see ‘Facilities onboard and more’ below) but your power bank may come in handy in the waiting area before you board.

  • Scarf:

The train has airconditioning. So, it can get quite cold. I recommend packing a scarf or a warm layer in case you need a bit of warmth on your journey.

  • Face Masks (mandatory):

The stations operate a ‘no mask no entry’ rule. We are still in the COVID-19 pandemic, so, it is important to wear a good quality mask throughout your journey to protect yourself and other travellers.

  • Sanitising equipment:

I took my hygiene kit which contains wipes, pocket tissue, a mini hand sanitiser and disinfectant spray.

This is not a definitive list and can be adjusted based on your travel needs and/or personal preferences. Though, you must not travel without cash, a valid form of identification and your face mask.

Getting to the station:

Lagos Station:

The Lagos Station is in the National Railway Compound, on Murtala Muhammed Drive in Alagomeji-Yaba.

Murtala Muhammed Drive is a one-way road. Once you get on this road, stay on the rightmost lane. As soon as you see Alagomeji Bus Stop, slow down. The entrance to National Railway Corporation (NRC) is immediately after the bus stop on the right. It is hard to miss.

Driving: View of Alagomeji Bus Stop and a partial view of NRC premises behind

The NRC’s compound has a low fence, so, you can see the logo from the road. Regardless, I would advise downloading the Google Maps app (iOS or Android) and searching for ‘Alagomeji Bus Stop’ for proper guidance.

Ibadan Station:

The Ibadan station is in a town called Moniya (Akinyele Local Government Area).

Moniya has a more rural, village-like setting than Alagomeji. It is roughly 30 minutes away from Bodija (one of the most popular districts in Ibadan). It may be more convenient to arrange private transportation to and from the station. Again, for direction, use Google Maps.

A friend of mine mentioned that Bolt taxis operate in the area. There are also some unlabelled taxis at the station. To stay safe, I recommend that you arrange with a trusted driver especially if you are not familiar with Ibadan.

The train terminates in Moniya, Ibadan at approximately 6:40 pm, which is the time the sun starts to set. Your ride should be waiting for you at the station so you can be on your way to your accommodation before it starts getting dark.

Ticket Prices and Payment:

3 different seating classes are currently available on the train; First Class, Business Class and Standard Class.

Side by side photos of the three classes available on the train

The fare for a one-way ticket* on the Lagos-Ibadan leg are:

Standard Class: ₦ 2,500

Business Class: ₦ 5,000

First Class: ₦ 6,000

*All tickets are non-refundable and no change is given so it is best to bring the exact amount for your fare

Traveller holding 3 first-class tickets (Lagos to Ibadan)

There is no provision for return tickets yet.

Tickets can only be bought at the ticketing counter on the day of travel. It is important to hold enough cash for your total journey (from and to Lagos).

In Lagos, only cash payments are allowed but at Moniya, Ibadan station there is a POS payment option available.

Train station facilities:

Lagos station:

You can find a sanitising stand at the entrance of the station beside the ticketing hall. In case you forgot to bring your sanitising equipment with you, you may use this.

At Ebute-Metta, Lagos station: the sanitising stand

There is a waiting area under a canopy outside the ticketing hall. It seems like a temporary arrangement till the terminal building has been constructed.

At the moment, there are no food or drinks served at this station.

I saw a “Toilet” sign but did not explore. So, I am not sure if it led to a facility that travellers can use. To be on the safe side, I recommend waiting till you board the train to use the toilets on there.

At Lagos Station, there is a lot of parking but overnight parking is not allowed. You can get dropped off by Uber, any other taxi service or your driver.

Ibadan station:

The waiting area and ticketing counter are in the open air. I did not notice any sanitising station here. Like the Lagos station, the current arrangements in Ibadan seem temporary and the construction of the train buildings are not yet completed.

At Moniya, Ibadan station: the waiting area

On the plus side, you do not have to worry about the heat waiting for your train. It is the early hours of the morning and the air is cool and light.

I hardly sat down before the train arrived. Instead, I went for a walk and observed the beautiful sight of the sun rising over Moniya.

Sunrise views. Taken from the waiting area at Moniya Station

At Moniya, Ibadan station a vendor offered us coffee and another person was selling pre-packed fruits. It was not clear if either of these vendors is employed by National Railway Corporation (NRC). So, it is very likely that you may not see them when you get to the station.

Moniya, Ibadan Station: Traveller buying coffee from a vendor

Unlike the Lagos station, there is no designated area for parking at Ibadan because construction for the station is not yet completed. So, cars carrying passengers park on bare land.

Boarding and departure times:

There is currently one scheduled departure time for the Lagos-Ibadan train daily. The duration of the journey is approximately 2 hours 30 minutes. I heard the train frequency may increase to 16 times a day and that the train speed will become quicker over time, reducing the total duration of the trip. Although, this information is not confirmed.

From Lagos, the train departs at 4:00 pm, arrives at Abeokuta at 5:30 pm, waits for about 5–10 minutes and arrives in Ibadan between 6:30 pm to 6:40 pm.

From Ibadan, the train departs at 8:00 am, arrives at Abeokuta at 9:00 am, waits for about 5–10 minutes and arrives in Lagos between 10:30 am to 10:40 am.

Notice to all travellers at Moniya, Ibadan station

You should be at the station at least 30 minutes before departure, allowing enough time to buy tickets and board the train.

At the Lagos station, boarding was systematic. By 3:00 pm (1 hour before departure), there was an announcement calling all First Class passengers to board. Business Class and Standard Class followed shortly after.

The boarding procedure was different in Ibadan. All passengers boarded the train at 7:35 am (25 minutes before departure).

Facilities onboard and more:

As you walk through the carriages to your assigned seat, you will notice that the train is well equipped with adequate luggage space, toilets, sockets and USB ports for charging. If you treat yourself to a First-Class experience, you can recline your chair an even rotate the single chairs 360 degrees.

Luggage space:

Each carriage has a special section for larger suitcase. Also, there is overhead storage for smaller suitcases. In First Class and Business Class carriages, there is more than enough room for other luggage pieces on the floor in front of your chair.

Sockets and USB charging ports:

I noticed charging sockets beside at the end of a row (on both sides) as I walked through the train. You can charge up to 3 devices but the charging speed is not quick. At least, you know you do not have to worry about your phone dying before you arrive at your destination.

Toilets:

There are toilets before and after each carriage. Also, there are occupancy indicators at the top of each carriage. They are helpful because it saves you the stress of walking to the toilet to figure out if it is in use or not.

All the toilets I visited were clean and stocked with tissue and handwash.

Toilet and skin facilities on the train

As with any public facility, I always recommend bringing your pocket tissue, mini handwash and sanitising equipment in case you do not like what you find on the train.

Food and Drinks:

You are not allowed to brink food, drinks, alcohol and cigarettes on the train. I had water and dried snacks on me though.

There is a refreshments area (pictured below) but it is not yet in service.

On the train: refreshments area (not yet in use)

Seating arrangement and assignment:

Seats are assigned at random. If you are travelling in a group, you should make this known at the point of ticketing so you can all sit together. For example, in First class, you could request the four-seater or to be on the same row as each other (see diagram below).

Seating chart of First Class carriage showing where groups can sit together

I would not have included this section as I did not experience the seats I was assigned as an issue. Yet, I did notice a bit of bickering when a couple got on the train and realised they were allocated seats that would separate them their entire journey. I could overhear them say “No. No. No. Husband and Wife are always together. They can never be separated.” Thankfully, it did not escalate past this. One of the train attendants ushered them to seats where they could enjoy each other’s company for the rest of the train ride.

Entertainment:

On the train, you will notice screens at the top of each carriage. The screens show a few Disney songs and a Chinese advert repeatedly. I guarantee that by the end of your 2-hour 30 minutes journey, you would have memorised the Frozen lyrics to ‘For the First Time in Forever’. You will probably be singing it on your way out of the train.

So you do not hurl your shoe at the screen on reflex, I would recommend bringing a book or downloading a movie that you can watch on your journey. You could also bring your laptop or tablet to do some work. If you came as a group, card games may be a great way to socialise. You know how best you like to spend idle time. Just remember that it is a 2-hour 30 minutes journey. So, take things with you that will make this journey more enjoyable for yourself.

Scenery watching:

If you are sat by the window, draw the curtains back and enjoy the views. I found the changing scenery very interesting; from the busyness of Lagos to the serene, countryside of Abeokuta. Some of the pictures I took can be seen in the collage below.

A collage of the views from the train window

Health checks and security:

You go through various checks from the moment you enter the station till you reach your final destination:

When you arrive at the station (in Lagos), your body temperature and luggage will be scanned, and a sanitiser will be sprayed onto your hands.

At Ibadan station: Passenger temperature check and hand sanitising by NRC employee

When you leave the ticketing hall (in Lagos), your tickets will be checked by a National Railway Corporation (NRC) employee manning the waiting area.

Before boarding the train, you will go through another process of ticket and temperature checks, as well as sanitising.

When the train starts moving, some NRC employees will come around to check your ticket and punch a hole in it to indicate that it is a used ticket.

In terms of security, it seems NRC has made adequate provision for this. Around the train station and on the train, you will see armed, uniformed men, soldiers and police officers. I believe are there to ensure all passengers get to their destination safely and to monitor suspicious behaviour. Luckily, their presence was not overwhelming and I was able to enjoy my train ride.

Overall Service:

National Railway Corporation (NRC) employees were friendly and eager to help out with any requests or concerns I had. This is a new experience for them too and you can tell they are pleased to be at work.

On the train: NRC employee by the refreshment area in Business Class

My Travel Notes:

I recommend this service to everyone. It is a great opportunity to use a transportation system that almost became obsolete after Nigeria gained its independence. More so, to experience the extra convenience of travelling by rail than by road to Ibadan.

Ibadan is a budding Nigeria city, home to many firsts. This includes the first skyscraper (Cocoa House) and the oldest University in Nigeria (University of Ibadan). Beyond these, there is a lot to add to your travel itinerary if you decide to explore the city and its environs. You can find some suggestions on Google, Trip Advisor, Hotels.ng, Culture Trip and the likes.

On the way to Ibadan and back, you will see a lot of construction going on. It seems more stations are being built and paths are being cleared for more train routes. This Lagos-Ibadan service is a partial completion of the larger Lagos-Kano project. So, I would expect to see more stops on the way to Ibadan shortly.

As I walked through the train stations, I could not help but think of the numerous business opportunities that this will attract. Once there is a fully functioning station, there will be room for vendors that sell food, drinks and other refreshments. If you are on a day’s trip to Ibadan for an Owambe, makeup and gele-tying studios will come in handy. If you are a commuting professional, you could pick up dry cleaning last minute or get in an hour’s workout session before heading home.

Outside physical stores, there is a huge potential for digital ticketing platforms. Like Trainline or National Rail, these platforms can increase convenience, enable passengers to purchase their tickets at home and keep them in a digital wallet. Apart from this, many more opportunities exist for travellers and business-minded people.

As these trains have been launched during a very critical time in our society, it is important to adhere to all health and safety travel advice set out by the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC). As always, stay safe!

If you found this useful, click on the ‘Clap’ icon and share with family and friends.

Do not forget to leave a comment too.

Occasional Writer