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South Africa’s luxury train transport could teach Nigeria a thing or two

The use of trains in Nigeria has been gaining more traction in recent years, particularly with renewed efforts by government to overhaul existing rail networks and even set up new routes.

Escaping insecurity on the roads to use trains suffered a bit of setback recently when so-called bandits attacked a portion of the Abuja-Kaduna line. However, other than taking train rides out of curiosity and adventure, trains could offer a better means for long haul inter-state trips, and, throwing in a bit of luxury could help.

Like Luxury Buses redefined road transport in Nigeria, especially for interstate travels, the same principle could be applied in the budding rail transport.

Luxury trains are special trains designed specifically to offer an elegant train ride, and evoke a strong sense of association as in history, heritage and decadence of a leisurely ride. Luxury trains operate in several countries and offer a luxurious and comfortable travelling option to luxury travellers.

Nowadays there is an increase in the trend of luxury train travel around the world. Luxury train travel proponents assert that it has several advantages over travel on aeroplanes. Whereas during air travel the monotony of the journey is occasionally broken by the view of clouds through the plane’s window, a winding luxury ride onboard the trains provides ample opportunity to the guests to witness the local environment, social and economic conditions, and myriad colours of the places they are travelling to.

Read also: Transport fares increase in September as fuel prices stay near flat

There are a number of reasons for the growing popularity of luxury trains over air travel, which includes ample space, restaurants and bars, spacious and comfortable sleeping and seating area and even wash/bathrooms.

In Africa, South Africa appears to have a reputation for the best luxury train rides on the continent; the Blue Train, and Rovos Rail. Replicating similar feats in Nigeria could apart from getting more people to really want to travel by train, also serve tourism purposes.

The Blue Train in South Africa has been synonymous with luxury and hospitality since 1946, travelling through some of the most diverse and spectacular scenery offered by the African sub-continent. Guests on the train are often treated to personal and attentive service, a dedicated butler, comfortable accommodation, excellent fine dining and exquisite wines.

The Blue Train offers scheduled and charter services. The scheduled route is from Pretoria to Cape Town or vice versa and the charter routes are from either Pretoria to Durban or Pretoria to Hoedspruit.

Rovos Rail, also in South Africa is made up of the train Locomotive, generator car, staff car, guest sleepers, a non-smoking lounge car (26 guests), two non-smoking 42-seat dining cars (if required, plenty of space for the maximum of 72 guests carried), kitchen car, guest sleepers, smoking lounge and Observation Car (32 guests) at the tail.

Cuisine Meals are served in one sitting only in the charming Victorian atmosphere of the dining cars and are complemented by a selection of fine South African wines. An enthusiastic team of chefs is responsible for overseeing the very important task of ensuring guests’ every need is catered for. There’s an accent on fresh local ingredients and traditional dishes such as game are a specialty.

If luxury train rides get introduced to the Nigerian rail tracks, local (and traditional) cuisines to keep guests satisfied will surely not be in short supply.

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