Egypt is set to embark on a plan to upgrade Alexandria’s tram network – the oldest tram system in Africa and one of the oldest in the world – in a 360 million euro project to be partially financed by the French Development Agency (AFD).
The Ministry of Investment and International Cooperation signed a 100 million euro deal on Tuesday with AFD to upgrade Alexandria's Raml tram line, known as the Blue Tram, which connects the city's western and eastern sections.
The project aims to extend the route of the 150-year-old tram line and renovate stations and cars. It would also eventually double capacity from 100,000 daily passengers to 230,000, said a statement published on the ministry's website on Tuesday.
Alexandria, Egypt's second largest city at a population of 4.5 million, does not have an underground metro system and relies solely on above-ground means of transportation.
The Alexandria tram system, which was constructed in 1860 and began operating in 1863, is used by only 12 percent of the city's daily commuters, according to AFD.
The renovation plan aims to optimise the alignment and construction of the tramway, provide faster service by minimising the intersection of the tramway with roads through the construction of viaducts and underpasses and the prioritisation of the tramway at traffic lights, the AFD said in a project document emailed to Ahram Online on Wednesday.
Stations will be upgraded by installing shelters, seating, ticket dispensers and signposts, it added.
The budget for the project, which will be carried out over three years, is 360 million euros; 100 million from AFD, 180 million from the European Investment Bank, and the equivalent of 80 million euros in the local currency from the ministry, transport minister Hisham Arafat was quoted as saying in the statement.
Arafat said the price of the tram ticket will be set when the upgrade is completed.
He added that development will later include the city's other extensive tram network that connects the city centre with the western section.
The AFD said that the project will halve the current travel time across 27 stations, covering 11km, to 30 minutes, AFD said.
The rehabilitation project will "considerably improve comfort for tramway users... [and] encourage Alexandrians to switch from car and taxi use to public transport," the agency said.