File Photo: From left, Egypt s Transport Minister Kamel El-Wazir, PM Mostafa Madbouly, President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, Siemens CEO Joe Kaeser, Siemens CEO Roland Busch (photo courtesy of the presidency)
El-Wazir's remarks came during his inspection tour of the high-speed rail network's first line, stretching 675 kilometres from Ain Sokhna and Alamein to Matrouh.
The first line will comprise 21 stations serviced by 15 high-speed trains, 34 regional trains, and 14 freight trains, according to a statement by the transport ministry.
In 2022, Egypt signed a contract with the German heavyweight Siemens to build around 2,000 kilometres of high-speed electric rail in the country at a total cost of about EGP 360 billion ($23 billion).
The German train manufacturer claims the project will be the sixth-largest of its kind globally.
The network will ultimately include three lines with a capacity of 500 million journeys annually at average speeds of 230 kilometres per hour.
A Suez Canal on rails
El-Wazir said the project is part of Egypt's plan to establish a sustainable, environmentally-friendly public transportation network.
During his tour, he stressed that the new electric train network will create a crucial logistical axis linking the Red and the Mediterranean Seas, adding that some experts have dubbed it “a new Suez Canal on rails.”
Linking airports, seaports, dry ports and roadways, the new rail system will facilitate multimodal transportation and a sustainable new development axis for Egypt.
El-Wazir highlighted the need for a new electric train network due to the limited capacity of the current diesel-powered system. Diesel trains also generate considerably more pollution than electric alternatives.
The minister also noted that the project will provide rail connections with neighbouring countries -- Sudan from Abu Simbel to Wadi Halfa and Libya from Matrouh/El-Salum to Benghazi.
Furthermore, he says, the project will generate significant job opportunities for young people.