The rebirth of a station: Cotonou

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September 2014

Construction work on the central Cotonou-Parakou section of the Benin-Niger railway line began on 26 June 1900, but had to be stopped at Parakou because of fighting linked to the Second World War.

The Beninese treasured the memory of these OBCN (Organisation Commune Bénin Niger) stations dotted along the railway line. These jewels of the national economy then declined and were completely abandoned in favour of road transport…


We are now seeing the rebirth of the railway line between Benin and Niger, and its departure point in Benin is the station in Cotonou, the country’s economic capital. On visiting this building, fully restored by the Bolloré Group, the President of Niger, Mahamadou Issoufou, the guest of his Beninese counterpart Thomas Boni Yayi, hit the nail on the head: “This is an adventure that we’ve embarked on together, together we are picking up where we left off in 1936″…

As the strategic partner for the Rail Loop project (Cotonou-Dosso-Niamey section), the Bolloré Group has completely restored OBCN central station, which was virtually in ruins. Today, its imposing blue and white façade is the pride of the people of Benin, who are rediscovering the joy of train travel.

Cotonou central station has also become a place for interaction and discovery, and an attraction in its own right. Planned for the coming months: a showroom presenting the Bolloré Group’s energy innovations, a restaurant, mini-concerts, exhibitions, and more. Re-establishing the train as a source of pride and a place to meet in Benin.