Abuja - The Federal Ministry of Transport said it had begun feasibility studies on some new railway corridors in the country.
Mr Nebolisa Emodi, Permanent Secretary of the ministry, announced this when a delegation of Korea Rail Network Authority visited the ministry to express interest in rail project partnership in Abuja on Monday.
He said the private sector and organisations like the authority, which had been developing railway infrastructure in several countries of the world, were interested in partnering with Nigeria.
``One of these new corridors is Lagos to Abuja high speed rail line which we anticipate a train can leave Lagos and be in Abuja within three and half hours.
``We believe that this can compete very well with the airlines. Another of the corridor is a line running from Lagos through Shagamu to Benin, Agbor, Asaba and Onitsha, Nnewi, Owerri and Aba.
``It is called the West-East line; it has a spur from Onitsha going all the way to Enugu and Abakaliki.
``Eventually the government anticipates that the line could be linked to Obudu Cattle Ranch which is one of our major tourism centres,’’ he said.
He said there would be a coastal railway network to link all the states in the South-South part of the country.
``We hope that in the next five to seven months, these feasibility studies would be ready and we are going to put up advertisement in international journals and newspapers for interested investors to participate.’’
Emordi, however, said the ministry had developed a 25-year master plan for railway construction in the country.
He said the plan entailed the rehabilitation of the existing rail network and gradual modernisation by building standard gauge railway system.
According to him, the final stage will be the system consolidation after both the rehabilitation and the modernisation effort.
``Funding has become a major challenge in the pursuit of this idea for government and it is apart from the ongoing rehabilitation projects where we are presently trying to rehabilitate about 3,500 km existing narrow gauge lines.
``We are also undertaking the construction of some new corridors. The first one that has been ongoing since the early 1990’s is the Itakpe to Ajaokuta rail line which is almost being completed.
``We have Lagos to Kano which for funding constraints we are now doing as six different segments.
``We are looking forward that the Korea Rail Network Authority would be interested in taking up one of these corridors and participating in the tender exercise that will come up.’’
Earlier, the Ambassador of Korea to Nigeria, Mr Jong-Hyun Choi, said Korea was ready to partner with the Federal Government in developing the rail line in the country.
He said the country was committed and would focus on the railroad network project in particular, adding that Korea was interested in knowing how best to cooperate with Nigeria for a successful project.
Mr Park Min-Woo, the leader of the delegation and Korea's Minister of Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs, said cooperation between the two countries would boost development.
Park said Korea was one of the countries with strong economy in the world, adding that the Korea Rail Network Authority had natural and human resources to drive infrastructure.