OPERATIONAL TRAFFIC CHARACTERISTICS OF RAILWAY TRANSPORT SERVICE
The study examines the operational traffic characteristics of Kano-Nguru rail transport service in northern part of Nigeria. The Kano-Nguru train service remained operational even when train operation along the major railway corridors were short down due to industrial crisis faced by the Nigerian Railway Corporation between 2005-2010. Data used were derived from both primary and secondary sources. The primary data focused on the train passengers and railway staff in the study area in order to capture their view on the train operations. Passengers were systematically selected and a sample size of 172 was used and this represented the total number of questionnaires that were administered for the study.
The study adopted the use of descriptive method of data analysis. The findings of this study reveals that 68.6% of the train passengers were traders, while 89% of the passengers opined that the train transport fare was relatively cheap. The study further indicates that majority of the passengers agreed that the train was always punctual at departure. The findings shows that year 2007 recorded the highest frequency of trips representing 18.5% of the total trips between 2007-2013 while 2010 recorded the list frequency of trips representing 10.3% of the total trips between 2007-2013. The findings also indicates that between 2007-2013 the total quantity of freight transported is 4086 metric tons. Similarly, the haulage of cows for the period under investigation was 4,644 cows, while 26,496 passengers were transported. Generally, there is need to upgrade the existing facilities at the railway terminals and inside the train so as to attract more passengers and increase revenue to the Nigerian government.
1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
Rail transport is a means of conveyance of passengers and goods by way of wheeled vehicles running on rail tracks in contrast to road transport, where vehicles merely run on a prepared surface. Rail coaches are also directionally guided by the tracks on which they run (Wolmar, 2009). A track usually consists of steel rails installed on sleepers, on which the rolling stock, usually fitted with metal wheels, moves. However, other variations are also possible, such as slab track where the rails are fastened to a concrete foundation resting on a prepared subsurface (Skempton, 2002).
According to American Railway Engineering and Maintenance of Way Association (AREMA) (2003) a train is a connected series of rail vehicles that move along a purposely constructed track. Propulsion for the train is provided by a separate locomotive or from individual motors in self-propelled multiple units. Most trains carry a revenue load, although non-revenue cars exist for the railway’s own use, such as for maintenance-of-way purposes. The engine driver controls the locomotive or other power cars.
The earliest evidence of a railway was a 6-kilometre (3.7 m) Diolkos wagon way, which transported boats across the Corinthisthmus in Greece during the 6th century BC. Trucks pushed by slaves ran in grooves in limestone, which provided the track element. The Diolkos ran for over 600 years (Lewis, 2009). Railways began reappearing in Europe after the Dark Ages. The earliest known record of a railway in Europe from this period is a stained-glass window in the Minster of Freiburg im Breisgau in Germany, dating from around 1350 (Hylton, 2007).
Clearly, a virile railway system plays a significant role in the sectoral development and overall growth of any economy. It opens up regions, hinterlands and rural areas by facilitating agricultural development as well as facilitates the growth of cottage/large scale industries. It also attracts residential, commercial, educational and recreational settlements and developments around its corridor. It is in this context that rail transport mode is seen as the mainframe or pivot around which an integrated national transport system should be built with other modes complementing.