At the beginning of a tour to inspect a number of projects implemented by the ministry in Upper Egypt, Minister of Transport Kamel El-Wazir stopped at Cairo's main Ramsis railway station on Saturday.
Before boarding train no. 980, which was heading from Cairo to Minya governorate, the minister inspected the train's locomotive, which is one of the first batch of ten new American locomotives which arrived this month.
The minister stressed on the importance of this deal in strengthening the railway's traction force of the ministry, indicating that "it is equipped with the latest types of modern technology used in this field."
The new locomotives, which arrived at Alexandria port on 5 December, are part of a deal signed with General Electric Company to provide Egypt with 110 such vehicles.
According to an earlier statement by Al-Wazir, he pointed out that the railway’s own resources, from tickets, fines, railway assets, and advertisements, covered the first batch of locomotives, at a cost of $27.05 million, while the total value of all 110 tractors will reach $602.05 million.
"These are the first new locomotives to join the fleet of the Egyptian Railway Authority since 2009," he noted.
The 110-locomotive agreement for the procurement of new locomotives and the maintenance of 81 locomotives, comes as part of a recent deal signed between the Egyptian government and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD).
The new locomotives will contribute towards increasing the proportion of goods transported by rail, reducing the burden on roads, in addition to increasing the financial resources available to the national railway, El-Wazir added.
Egypt's railway network, which is founded in 1851 and considered the second oldest worldwide, needs to be radically upgraded as eighty-five per cent of the network still uses mechanical signalling systems.
Osama Okail, professor of road and railway engineering at Ain Shams University, claims the entire domestic railway network is moribund and “needs to be radically upgraded”.
Signals at crossings still depend on the telephone. Ninety per cent of engines still run on diesel. The sector is long overdue an overhaul. Modern electrical signals need to be put in place and diesel engines should be replaced with electric ones,” Okail told Ahram Online.
Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly heads a ministerial meeting on Friday to follow on the upgrading of railway sector (photo courtesy Egyptian Cabinet)
In a meeting with Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly and El-Wazir on Friday, head of the National Railways Authority (NRA) Ashraf Raslan also stressed on the importance of the restructuring plan of the railway authority.
Raslan, according to a statement by the ministry, presented the most important contracts and plans currently being implemented with total investments amounting to more EGP 63 bln through manufacturing, supplying and repairing trains and tractors, developing crossings and improving stations as well as modernizing signalling systems.
The railway network serves 23 governorates nationwide, and transport about 300 million passengers and about 5 million tons of cargo annually. And 883 daily passenger trips throughout the 24 hours are operated daily, according to the NRA.