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Egypt to start building high-speed railway from Red Sea to Mediterranean

Egypt and German’s Siemens recently signed an agreement to start establishing a high-speed railway network connecting the Red Sea and Mediterranean coasts, as part of Egypt’s efforts to develop its decaying sector.
A picture taken on October 11, 2015 shows a man walking on a railway as a train approaches in the Egyptian capital Cairo. AFP PHOTO / MOHAMED EL-SHAHED        (Photo credit should read MOHAMED EL-SHAHED/AFP via Getty Images)

Egypt and German Siemens company signed Jan. 14 a memorandum of understanding to build a high-speed electric railway network that connects Ain Sokhna on the Red Sea coast to New Alamein that lies on the Mediterranean Sea. 

According to a statement published on the Egytpian prime minister office’s Facebook page, the memorandum was signed by the Egyptian Ministry of Transport, represented by the National Authority for Tunnels and Siemens, in the presence of Egyptian Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly.

According to the statement, the project aims “to build a 360 billion Egyptian pound [$23 billion], 1,000-kilometer [621-mile] long high-speed electric train network in Egypt. The construction of the railway that connects Ain Sokhna to New Alamein, passing through the new administrative capital, would start immediately” and would include 15 stations to be completed within two years.

Following the signing ceremony, Minister of Transport Kamel al-Wazir said, “The agreement is the culmination of lenghty negotiations between President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and the company's [Siemens] representatives. The two parties agreed to excellent conditions, with a different idea of operation than the old railway network based on the highest specifications in the world with no junctions or crossings, as is the case in the current railways.”

He said that the project reflects the strong Egyptian-German relationship, stressing that Sisi is keen to strengthen the bilateral relations at all levels.

During a meeting with CEO of Siemens Joe Kaesar in Cairo on Jan. 13, Sisi discussed the project to establish the high-speed electric train network.

The Egyptian presidency said in a statement following the meeting that the new electric railway would be a valued addition to the transportation network in Egypt, whether for individual or trade movements, since it will connect the Red Sea coast to the Mediterranean coast, passing through the new administrative capital and other major cities. The project will boost development efforts in Egypt and open up promising prospects for improved cooperation between Egypt and Siemens in modern transportation networks.

Egypt has been recently seeking to boost its transportation sector, particularly since dozens of transportation and train accidents happen each year in the country. 

On Aug. 13, 2020, the Russian-Hungarian Transmashholding industrial group announced that the Egyptian Ministry of Transport put to use new passenger carriages that Russia had earlier delivered to Egypt

Transmashholding said in a Facebook post back then that the carriages will run in several Egyptian cities, and that the various designs include an 88-seater carriage and can accommodate standees. 

This comes as part of a 16.5 million euro ($20 million) deal signed in October 2018 between the Egyptian Railway Authority (ERA) and Transmashholding. Under the deal, the first batch of 33 passenger carriages, which meet the Russian, Hungarian and Egyptian standards, was delivered to Egypt in July 2020.

Egypt is set to receive another 175 carriages by the end of 2021, bringing the total number provided to Egypt to 1,300 in five different models. 

Sayed Salem, former ERA head, said the plans to develop Egypt’s railway network are not new. He told Al-Monitor that since Wazir took the reins of the Transport Ministry, the plans were accelerated in light of a political will. In addition to the plans to establish high-speed railways and use new passenger carriages, the ministry provided qualified and skilled technicians after identifying the real needs in the technical and engineering fields. He noted that 150 engineers have been appointed to fill jobs in the sector, in addition to efforts to clean the stations and wagons and increase the number of train ticket counters.

On the importance the railway sector has on the national economy, Salem said, “The railways are one of the most important transportation means in the world, given the large quantity of goods and individuals transported. This is in addition to the regular train services that cover several parts of a country. 

He added that the ERA said the state's plan for the development of railways is based on a strategic vision to develop the transportation network in general, and railways in particular, given the strategic and national importance it holds for Egypt as it connects the country’s ports together.

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