File Photo: Cairo metro's line 3 (Photo Courtesy of Cairo metro's official page on Facebook)
In an inaugural ceremony on Wednesday, Egypt launched drilling operations on the third phase of the Cairo metro's heavily-commuted third line, which will extend more than 17 km and include 15 stations.
The ceremony was attended by Prime Minister Sherif Ismail, Transport Minister Hesham Arafat, Electricity Minister Mohamed Shaker and other officials.
According to state-run MENA agency, the metro line's third phase will include eight underground stations, five elevated stations and two at-grade stations.
Drilling commenced at Gamal Abdel Nasser Station following the completion of previous construction work there.
Drilling will also start from Attaba Station and pass underneath 26 July Street and the Nile to Zamalek, Imbaba and finally Boulaq El-Dakrour.
In a statement during the ceremony, chairman of the National Authority for Tunnels (NAT) Tarek Gamal El-Din said that the third phase, which will be completed in 72 months, is being executed at a combined cost of 1.53 billion euros and EGP 10.5 billion.
The European Investment Bank (EIB) and the French Development Agency (AFD) are co-financing the phase three building project with a soft loan of 900 million euros, or about 60 percent of its execution cost, while the rest of the cost is being provided by Egypt's state budget.
The new phase will aim to provide service to three million additional passengers daily.
The Cairo metro, which operates throughout the capital city and surrounding areas and runs both above and below ground at a top speed of 80 kilometres an hour, is one of the area's fastest means of transportation.
First launched in 1987, the metro accomodates more than four million passengers per day.
At a former cost of 1 EGP per ride, it was also the cheapest method of transportation in the greater Cairo area prior to price increases in recent years.
On 11 May, the flat-rate of EGP 2 per ticket was increased to EGP 3, 5, or 7 depending on the number of stops a passenger travels.
According to the Egyptian Transport Ministry, higher fares are necessary to keep the service operating and to finance extensions for the metro.
Cairo's first metro line is now 30 years old and in dire need of EGP 30 billion in renovations, according to the ministry.