Passengers wait for their train near a damaged train carriage (File photo: Reuters)
CAIRO – 27 February 2019: Over the past four years, Egypt, under the leadership of President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, has worked on developing the country’s national railway system after citizens have voiced their concern regarding the out-dated system.
Where are we heading?
In late January 2019, Amr Shaat, Deputy Minister of Transportation, said that the ministry set March 15 as the deadline for the submission of tehnical and financial offers for the implementation of the first high-speed railway in Egypt, extending from Ain Sokhna to New El Alamein City.
Shaat pointed out that the ministry planned to finish the implementation of the first a high-speed railway within 30 months, adding that the project will be for passengers and goods. He also said that a high-speed railway will link Ain Sokhna; the new administrative capital; 6th of October, Alexandria and the New El Alamein City.
Moreover, the Ministry of Transportation aims to implement over phases in order to link all new cities together. The plan, according to documents obtained by Egypt Today, includes three lines that will be executed in order of priority. The first links Ain Sokhna to New Alamein. It will start from the New Administrative Capital (NAC) passing through Ain Sokhna and 6th of October City until New Alamein. There will be a branch at Nubareya that extends to Alexandria through Borg al-Arab city.
The first phase of that line will stretch from NAC until the 6th of October City over 122 kilometers and be linked with Rod al-Farag Axis. The second phase will extend from 6th of October City untill New Alamein over 210 kilometers passing in parallel to Rod al-Farag - Dabaa axis. That phase will have a branch line that starts from Nubareya at Beheira governorate and ends in Alexandria passing through Borg al-Arab over 99 kilometers. The third phase links NAC with Ain Sokhna, and lies over 92 kilometers.
The second line links 6th of October City with Upper Egyptian governorates until Aswan. The third line will start from Ain Sokhna and passes through Marsa Alam and Hurghada until it ends in Luxor. Ain Sokhna and Luxor will be the junction stations of the first and third lines. The speed of passenger and freight trains will be 250 km/h and 160 km/h respectively.
Former Transportation Minister Hisham Arafat tells Egypt Today that the rate of accomplishment will be determined by the availability of funding stating that the ministry requires in tenders that offers be backed by governmental soft loans that can cover the costs of the projects execution. That is the case of the first line tender currently taking place.
Egypt is also working with International Company Siemens to upgrade its railway system on the 214 km Banha-Port Said line at a cost of 153 million dollars.
“The railway system will be provided with advanced technology for signalling, level-crossings and communications and the number of wagons and passengers on this route will be increased. The existing mechanical interlocking systems will be replaced by modern, state-of-the-art centrally controlled electronic systems, a statement by the Transport Ministry said,” explains MENA. “The modernization is part of a plan to upgrade Egypt’s rail system to increase safety levels and raise the railway’s maximum speed.”
“The upgrade also falls within the government's interest in enhancing the movement of goods via railways to reduce traffic on roads and increase revenues of the Railway Authority by increasing the freight volume on routes,” the article says, continuing, “Siemens will provide the electronic interlocking systems, point mechanisms, level-crossing technology and communication technology for the routes, which include 21 stations.”
Developments pursued by the Egyptian government do not simply stop there. The government also inked a deal with Trance Mash Holding to import 1,300 carriages for railway trains. According to a statement to RT, the Russian news agency, Kirril Lippa, the company CEO, the imports will start in December 2019, adding that the 1,300 carriages will be exported to Egypt over a four-year period.
Developments in 2018
In 2018, the former Minister of Transportation Hisham Arafat said in a conference in Dubai that more than 10 international companies are currently involved in the tender process, he said, without giving any names. This comes within the framework of a new plan to develop Egyptian ports. The plan will be implemented by the Arab Academy for Science and Technology, in cooperation with Hamburg port in Germany.
Egypt is also working with China to build a light railway to link Cairo to the new administration capital that is under construction, after signing a memorandum of understanding last year.
“Chairman of the Arab Organization for Industrialization (AOI) Abdel Moneim al Taras on Sunday discussed in a meeting with Chairman of China Railway 20 Bureau Group Corporation (CR20G) Deng Yong means of boosting cooperation in the manufacturing of monorails and express trains, as well as benefiting from the Chinese expertise and technology in this sector,” writes MENA.
This comes within the country’s framework to modernize the fleet of railway and metro carriages and trains, and provide top-notch services to Egyptian citizens.
“The AOI head said that he agreed with the CR20G chairman to establish an industrial base in the field of fast trains and monorails, pointing out that the state gives a top priority to transport projects, as it forms the backbone of desired development,” writes MENA, continuing, “For his part, Deng Yong said that the CR20G is interested in fostering cooperation with the AOI, adding that he agreed with al Taras to work on removing all obstacles to achieving high rates of local manufacturing in the area of speed trains and monorails.”