The first railway in Nigeria was opened in 1898 between Lagos and Abeokuta, a distance of 96km. In common with the railways of other British colonies in Africa, the chosen gauge was 3ft 6in (1067mm), and this gauge was used for subsequent expansion.
The present day network extends to some 3500km of route and reaches many parts of the country, although given the huge land area coverage is sparse. In the early part of the 21st century lines were very run down and underutilized; however it was reported in 2014 that a program of reconstruction and rehabilitation was largely complete, except in the northeastern provinces of Borno and Yobe where terrorist activity conitinues to be a problem.
In 1991 new 277km standard (1435mm) gauge line opened to connect iron ore workings in the Itakpe area with steel works at Ajaokuta. Proposals to extend the line from Ajaokuta to a coastal port at Warri (a distance of around 275km) emerged soon afterwards, but construction was delayed by political and financial difficulties. Work was eventually completed in 2013.
In 2012, construction commemced on a new 181kn standard gauge line from Lagos to Ibadan. Various delays to its completion have occurred and opening is not expected before 2018.
In 2014, a new 186km standard gauge line from Abuja to Kaduna was completed. Freight services commenced the following year, passenger services from May, 2016.
Also in 2014, a contract was signed for the construction of a new standard gauge railway serving the coastal area between Lagos and Calabar.
In 2015, a contract was signed for the construction of a 334km commuter rail network in Ogun state, north of Lagos. The first line would run from Abeokuta to Ijebu Ode.
In 2017, funding was approved for a new 305km standard gauge line from Kaduna to Kano; plans were announced for a new 275km line linking the steel works at Ajaokuta with the Agbaja Iron Ore Project in Kogi State.
A light rail transit system opened in Abuja in 2018. Similar systems are under construction or proposed in various cities. A number of monorail systems have been proposed but only that at Calabar appears to be progressing at the present time.
Flag image from CIA World Factbook