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High-tech trains are coming to Cairo

Comments (0) Featured, Technology

Egyptian Passengers will soon be able to travel through their country aboard a high-speed train. Indeed, the German group Siemens deals to construct 2,000 kilometers of high-speed rail lines across Egypt. The project aims to connect 60 cities by train, at speeds of up to 250 kilometers per hour.

Rail travel is the most important method of passenger transportation in Egypt with 800 million passenger miles annually. Most of the network connects the densely populated urban areas of the Nile delta with Cairo and Alexandria as switching points. Train fares in commuter trains and 3rd class passenger trains are subsidized by the government as a social service.

Egyptian rail before

The history of Egypt under British rule lasted from 1882 to 1956 (the Suez Crisis), and we all know that Britain was a huge promoter of rail infrastructure: witness the 60, 000 km of line in India. The British introduced rail to Egypt in 1854.  Egypt has less than 20% of India’s rail length, yet it will soon have a rail network availability that any country would be proud of.

The development

Between September 2021 and May  of 2022, the German industrial group Siemens Mobility deals to construct 2,000 kilometers of high-speed rail lines across Egypt. The deal is worth over 8 billion and includes 41 high-speed trains, 94 regional trains, and 41 freight trains. It will connect 60 cities by train, at speeds of up to 250 kilometers per hour, providing rail access to around 90% of the population. The maximum speed is 250 km / h but the operational speed of electric express trains is 230 km / h. The safety and speed factors offer any business transporting goods huge incentives to switch from road to rail as their network of choice.

The network from Abu Simbel to Cairo

Egypt will have the largest and most modern high-speed rail network in the Southern hemisphere! The City of the Dead, Cairo Necropolis, will soon be bustling with activity. The second stretch of track will connect Cairo with Abu Simbel.

Trains offer many advantages over other forms of travel. The check-in times are almost non-existent when compared with the two hours required on flights. Given a maximum speed of 250 km/h, that means that one could travel a distance of almost 1000 km in just over four hours! Baggage limits are generous, and the comfort factor on trains is a huge bonus.

Travelling through the desert at speed in an air-conditioned carriage gives one an opportunity to see a huge area of the country, an advantage not possible when flying commercially. When people choose to travel by express train rather than by car, it reduces traffic congestion. Trains also have a very good safety record, and the impact on the environment is less damaging to the environment than road travel. In addition, the new lines will aid in the economic development of existing and previously inaccessible towns.

Other benefits of the network

The benefits are not all about travel – over 500 new jobs will be created, and construction and technical staff from Siemens and associated companies will train staff from Orascom and other Arab contractors. The benefits to the nation of skilled technicians cannot be understated. Over 90% of the Egyptian population will soon have access to fast, cheap, and safe transport! That statistic is something for Egyptians to feel proud of, and it is a figure unmatched anywhere in Africa, and indeed even by several developed western countries.

Egypt presently has a population of almost 110 million, giving a population density of over 100 per square kilometer, which gives rise to frequent traffic jams and much pollution. An estimated 30 million passengers will travel annually on the new line that reduces travel time by 50%. It is hoped that volume of freight by rail will increase from the present 5% to 15%. 

The modernization of public rail travel in Egypt is on the fast track!

Photo : travelandleisure.com

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Engie and Thales will design the Dakar Regional Express railway line

Comments (0) Africa, Business, Featured

rail track

The French companies Engie and Thales have won the design contract for Senegal’s new Dakar Regional Express Railway project.

The French companies Engie and Thales were recently announced as the winners of the lucrative design contract for Senegal’s vaunted new Dakar Regional Express railway line. The two companies are well established within Africa, but had to fight off stiff competition from several other bids in order to secure the contract with Senegal’s government. The announcement of their successful bids was made on July 27th by APIX, the Senegalese Agency for Investment Promotion and Public works, and the lucrative deal is valued at around $251 million.

The route ahead

The Dakar Regional Express Railway project was first announced in 2014, as part of the Senegalese government’s “Emerging Senegal” program, which aims to boost the nation’s economic and social development. The railway line will connect Senegal’s capital city, Dakar, with the new international airport, Blaise Diagne, and the city of Diamniadio.

The first part of the project will see the construction of the longest section of 36 km between Dakar and Diamniadio. After this, an additional 15 km of line will be built between Diamniadio and the new Blaise Diagne international airport.

The total 55 km distance, between Dakar and the airport, will be covered in around 45 minutes, with 14 stations en-route, and the trains will reach speeds of 160 km/h. The service is also intended to have 3 lines, with 2 for standard passenger trains, and the other for freight transport.

Construction is expected to begin in the final quarter of this year, and to take 26 months, meaning that trains should begin service at the end of 2018. By the end of 2019, the government expects the service to have carried around 115,000 passengers.

The construction work and civil engineering will be carried out by a French, Senegalese and Turkish consortium. The companies making up the consortium are the local Senegalese group CSE, France’s Eiffage Company, and Turkey’s Yapi Merkezi. However, the design and integration of the electrics and communications, alongside overall project management is what has fallen to Engie and Thales.

Engie and Thales the winning duo

Engie and Thales both have a long-standing involvement in African projects. Engie, formerly known as GDF Suez, is a renowned company within the field of electrical power, and has designed and developed renewable energy projects in Africa for 50 years. Engie’s expertise in electrical energy and energy efficiency is evidently pertinent to the Dakar rail project, and its existing presence in Africa will have also aided its bid. The company employs 154,950 people, and had a turnover of over $77.8 billion in 2015.

Likewise, Thales is a company with a recognized body of work within Africa, having worked across multiple fields around the continent for 30 years. However, its know-how, in rail signaling and telecommunications in land transport, is clearly of most significance to the decision to grant the group the dual contract. Thales is already involved in the rail industry in 5 African nations, and employs 62,000 people across 56 countries, with a turnover of $15.6 billion last year.

While the exact split of the $251 million contract between the 2 French corporations is not known, they released a joint statement saying, “Engie and Thales have been selected…for the design and construction of infrastructures and systems of the new Dakar Regional Express Train, for a contract in the amount of 225 million euros”

The teams’ responsibilities

Engie and Thales will now be responsible for multiple aspects of the Dakar Regional Express’ design and development. Aside from designing the systems and providing management, Engie and Thales are also responsible for integrating all aspects of the rail service.

One of the major areas in which their combined expertise will be utilized is the management of the fiber-optic communications network that will connect the trains to the command center. Train signaling, power supply, and providing technical supervision for all train station equipment are also core responsibilities that the French companies have.

Engie and Thales won the contract in the face of strong bids from various competitors, including two Chinese companies, China Railway Construction Company and China Road & Bridge Corporation.

Senegal’s government will be hoping that the combined proficiency of the French duo will ensure that a major part of their bold “Emerging Senegal” project will soon be a reality.

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Sub-Saharan Africa rail projects promise to increase trade

Comments (0) Africa, Business, Featured

uganda railway

Rail projects proposed or under way on the southern continent will cost an estimated $60 billion.

Railway projects totaling more than $60 billion are proposed or under way in sub-Saharan Africa.

That estimate comes from Terrapin, which is organizing a major rail conference June 28-29 in Johannesburg. According to Terrapinn, projects in Uganda, Namibia, Batswana, Mali, and Nigeria have the largest budgets, ranging from $8 billion up to nearly $14 billion each.

One massive project is a 3,000-kilometer rail line that will link Benin, Burkina Faso,

Niger, Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Togo and Ghana.

These nations and mining companies that operate within them are funding the project as the mining industry seeks to increase mineral exports from 109,000 tons a year to 3.4 million tons in 2020, a 30-fold increase.

Without rail network, transport expensive

The lack of a cross-border rail network has made transport expensive, especially in land-locked countries such as Niger, which derives 11 percent of its gross domestic product from mining, and Burkina Faso, which derives 13 percent of GDP from mining.

The rail network also is expected to boost trade among the linked nations and drive economic development in other sectors.

Nigeria also has ambitious plans for domestic rail lines, including one linking Lagos and Kano and another between Lagos and Calabar along the coast. Both were designed to ease commuter congestion and facilitate transport of goods.

However, plans were thrown into doubt in April when the Nigerian National Assembly removed $300 million in funding for the coastal project from the 2016 budget. Funding for a third line between Idu and Kaduna was severely reduced as well.

New line will transport coal

Meanwhile, Botswana and Namibia in southern Africa, are seeking private investment to build a 1,500-kilometer rail line that would transport coal from land-locked Botswana’s fields to Namibian ports on the Atlantic coast.

The project was estimated to cost $15 billion when first proposed in 2011. In 2015, the two countries staffed an office to begin looking into legal and cross-border issues that will have to be addressed.

In Mali, China has agreed to finance an overhaul of a rail line linking the capital of Bamako to Dakar in Senegal. Renovation of the 1,300-kilometer rail line will cost a total of $2.5 billion.

China will also train engineers and technicians and overhaul more than 20 train stations and domestic routes.

China will build Ugandan network

China will also play a role in development of a light-rail commuter network in the Ugandan capital of Kampala. The two countries in December signed an agreement for the China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation to build the first phase of the project at a cost of about $440 million.

Plans call for a 240-kilometer network with rail lines from the city center to Entebbe, Nsangi, Wakiso and other towns surrounding the capital. To ease traffic congestion, Uganda also launched an experimental commuter rail line in December between Kampala and Namanve.

Terrapinn listed the following countries with projected rail costs in its report: Uganda ($13.8 billion), Namibia-Botswana ($10 billion), Mali ($9.5 billion), Nigeria ($8.3 billion), Mozambique –Malawi ($4.4 billion), South Africa ($4.3 billion), Kenya ($4 billion), Angola ($3.3 billion), Cameroon ($2.9 billion), Zambia ($1 billion), Democratic Republic of the Congo ($630 million), Zimbabwe ($450 million), Ghana ($300 million), and Tanzania ($40 million).

Terrapinn earlier this year reported a boom in rail development in the Middle East and North Africa with proposals and projects estimated at more than $350 billion, with a number of high-speed rail lines under way.

Railways are vital to economic growth

According to the African Development Bank, railways have an important role to play in the economic development of the continent.

“Rail transport is inevitably critical to support economic development. Unless this mode of transport is developed, Africa may not realize its full potential in exploiting its abundant natural resources and wealth,” the bank said in a 2015 report.

However, the African Development Bank report said the poor condition of rail and rolling stock in many African countries is undermining the potential of rail systems to make a strong contribution to economic growth.

Unfortunately, the ability of African countries to attract investment for railway upgrades has been mixed, it said.

However, the report said support for investment in rail infrastructure will grow as African production of goods and minerals increase and as environmental concerns are heightened.

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South Africa’s Eskom says Majuba rail line to be completed in 2017

Comments (0) Africa, Business, Latest Updates from Reuters

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – South African electricity utility Eskom said on Thursday that construction of a railway line linking its Majuba power plant with the main coal line would be completed at the end of 2017.

The 68-kilometre corridor is the first large green field freight rail infrastructure project to be carried out in South Africa since 1986, Eskom said.



(Reporting by Tiisetso Motsoeneng; editing by Jason Neely)

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Rail projects for Middle East, North Africa total $350 billion

Comments (1) Africa, Business, Featured, Middle East

high speed rail saudi arabia

The region is experiencing a boom in development of railways to drive economic growth and benefit the environment. 

High-speed rail travel is on a fast track in the Middle East and Northern Africa. More than $350 billion in rail projects are under way in the region.

The estimate represents major rail projects in 16 countries, according to Terrapinn Middle East, which is organizing the 10th annual Middle East Rail conference in Dubai March 8 and 9.

Rail travel has become increasingly appealing in the region as a greener alternative to auto or air travel.

While the United Arab Emirates recently delayed work on a high-speed rail project, other governments that are facing budget deficits because of the oil glut prioritize rail projects as a way to improve trade and increase tourism to boost their economies.

Saudi Arabia builds high-speed line

One of these countries, Saudi Arabia accounts for about one third of the total spending with projects totaling $118.9 billion.

A major Saudi project is the $55 million Haramain high-speed rail project, which will connect the holy cities of Mecca and Medina with Jeddah, the country’s commercial capital and second largest city. Following delays, it is expected to begin operations in early 2017.

Kingdom wants to boost religious tourism

The Saudis see rail development as key to the nation’s ambitions to attract more tourists, especially to the holy sites.

The Saudi kingdom drew 16 million tourists in 2014 and wants to double that number by 2030, according Fadh Al Rasheed, group CEO of King Abdullah Economic City.

The Saudis also are building a $12 billion four-line commuter rail network in Jeddah as well as a $22 billion six-line network in the capital of Riyadh.

UAE project sees delays, staff reductions

While most projects are moving forward in spite of financial problems brought on by sharp reductions in oil prices, the United Arab Emirates in January suspended the bidding process for the second stage of its $11 billion Etihad Rail project and cut a third of its workforce. A project spokesman said the aim was to streamline operations before moving forward with bids.

Terrapinn said United Arab Emirates planned on spending $27 billion for metro rail, a tram and long-distance freight and passenger rail.

ethiad rail

Gulf States plan integrated network

Saudi Arabia and the UAE have agreed with four fellow states in the Gulf Cooperative Council to build an integrated high-speed rail network linking their countries by 2018 at a total estimated cost of $200 billion. The other partner nations are Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman and Qatar.

The goal is to create an efficient regional network of freight and passenger rail lines.

The railway network will yield environmental benefits for the region and create new jobs while reducing dependence on more expensive air or auto travel, according to Feras Shadid, a rail asset management consultant.

According to Terrapinn Bahrain has allocated $12.9 billion for rail; Kuwait, $17 billion, Oman, $16 billion, and Qatar, $46.7 billion.

China will help Iran build a high-speed line

With the lifting of sanctions, Iran is planning to develop a high-speed rail line linking the cities of Tehran, Qom and Isfahan. Terrapinn said Iran plans to spend $24.6 billion on rail projects.

China last month agreed to give Iran financial help with its high-speed rail line as part of an agreement to significantly increase trade to $600 billion in the next 10 years. China also wants to build a high-speed line linking the two countries.

Algeria, Egypt and Morocco plan rail development

Algeria, with a Terrapinn estimate of $34.4 billion, is developing light rail systems in Algiers, Oran and Constantine. While the projects have been delayed because of lost oil revenues, they are currently expected to be fully operational by 2020.

Egypt, with an estimate of $30.9 billion in spending, has projects including $1.5 billion to build a rail line linking 6th of October City to Cairo.

Morocco has an estimated $10 billion in projects, including a high-speed rail line that will connect Tangiers to Casablanca.

Farther south, Nigeria has $75 billion in rail projects, according to Terrapinn. High-speed rail service between Abuja and Kaduna is scheduled to begin operations in March. The line has nine stations.

Terrapinn also listed the following countries and their rail spending: Djibouti and Ethiopia ($4 billion shared), Iraq ($14 billion), Jordan ($3.8 billion), Lebanon ($500 million).

Major rail convention planned in March

Terrapinn released the estimates in advance of Middle East Rail 2016, the largest conference and expo devoted to rail projects in the region.

About 9,000 rail operators, government officials and contractors are expected to attend the March 8-9 event at the Dubai International Exhibition & Convention Centre. The expo will feature 300 exhibitors.

High-speed rails, or “bullet trains,” travel at significantly faster speeds than traditional trains. They can reach speeds of up to 350 kilometers per hour. They have been developed in Europe and East Asia.

Meanwhile, the boom in rail construction in the Middle East has caused worker shortages in other parts of the world.

For example, officials in Chennai, India said they have trained rail workers only to see them leave for higher paying jobs in the Middle East during the last two years, causing interruptions and delays.

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Bollore invests 30 mln euros in Ivory Coast-Burkina rail link

Comments (0) Africa, Business, Europe, Latest Updates from Reuters

bollore rail

ABIDJAN (Reuters) – Bollore has invested 30 million euros ($33.6 million) to buy trains for the freight and passenger line it operates between Burkina Faso and Ivory Coast, the French company said.

Landlocked Burkina Faso relies partly for its exports and imports on the ports of its southern neighbour Ivory Coast, the biggest economy in French-speaking West Africa. It also uses ports in other neighbours Ghana and Togo.

“We have invested around 30 million euros to acquire trains, including six received today,” Lionel Labarre, director of Bollore Africa Logistics, said on Wednesday.

“We are still waiting for nine locomotives that will add to the 20 that are already in service,” he said, adding that Bollore would also develop the station in Abidjan, Ivory Coast’s main city.

Trains take about 36-hours to do the 1,260-km (787-mile) journey between Abidjan and Burkina Faso’s capital Ouagadougou, and carriages are often packed with people, trade goods and animals being carried to market.

Bilateral trade between Burkina Faso and Ivory Coast hit 290 billion CFA francs ($495 million) in 2014, up from 165 billion in 2011, Prime Minister Daniel Kablan Duncan said at a ceremony to mark the arrival of the six new engines.

Most of the trade runs via rail and road links. Cargo traffic between the two countries stood at 610,000 tonnes last year, up from 402,000 tonnes in 2011, Duncan said.

Developing the rail line is a strategic priority for Ivory Coast and a tool for regional integration, said Duncan, adding that the country was aiming for 2 million passengers a year in the next few years up from 300,000 now.

Bollore has operated the Ivory Coast-Burkina Faso railway since 1995 and has recently been awarded a concession for a rail link between Niger, Benin and Togo.


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