Lagos Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu visits Talgo trainsets plaque

NIGERIA: The long-running saga of the two Talgo trainsets which were ordered for operation in the US state of Wisconsin but never entered service has taken another twist, with an agreement being signed to sell them for use on the Red Line in Lagos.

Lagos Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu visits Talgo trainsets

Governor of Lagos State Babajide Sanwo-Olu tweeted that the trains had been acquired ’to give a new lease of life to transport in Lagos’ when he travelled to Milwaukee on January 18 to meet Acting Mayor of Milwaukee Cavalier Johnson at the Talgo Inc factory in the city.

Talgo Inc confirmed to Railway Gazette International that a contract had been signed to sell the trainsets to the state of Lagos.

Complex politics

With capacity for 420 passengers each, the two 14-car Talgo Series 8 trainsets were ordered by Wisconsin’s Democrat Governor Jim Doyle for $47·5m in 2009.

Lagos Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu visits Talgo trainsets in USA

They were intended for use on Amtrak’s 138 km Chicago – Milwaukee Hiawatha service from 2011 as part of a plan to extend the service to state capital Madison and Minneapolis/St Paul, for which a further two trainsets were expected to be ordered.

Lagos Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu visits Talgo trainsets interior

However, in 2010 Republican Governor-elect Scott Walker turned down a $823m federal grant awarded for the proposed extension, which he had campaigned against, and tried to terminate the train order; the state eventually paid around $50m to Talgo, with the manufacturer retaining ownership of the trainsets.

The vehicles were stored, and various plans to sell or lease them for use elsewhere in the US fell through.

Lagos Red Line

Construction of the long-planned Red Line in Lagos was launched with a groundbreaking attended by state Governor Sanwo-Olu in April 2021.

Lagos Red Line groundbreaking ceremony

The north-south mass transit line running 37 km from Marina to Agbado with 11 stations is being developed by the Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority. It is to be built in three phases, with the initial section between Agbado to Oyingbo serving eight stations expected to be operational by Q4 2022 and providing a capacity of 500 000 passengers daily. 

The bulk of the route between Agbado and Iddo will share an alignment with Nigerian Railway Corp’s Lagos – Ibadan main line, which has been reconstructed to 1 435 mm gauge. Dedicated tracks are to be provided for the Red Line between Oyingbo and the main line terminus at Ebute-Metta.

The second phase of the Red Line is planned to serve Murtala Muhammed International Airport.