Egypt, AfDB ink €145 mln agreement to update railway systems

Ahram Online , Sunday 23 May 2021

Under the agreement, Egypt’s Railway Authority's main lines will be extended with 953 km controlled by the European Train Control System (ETCS-L1) to manage the course of the cars

Minister El-Mashat, Minister El-Wazir, and AfDB’s country manager while signing the agreement on Sunday,

Egypt’s Minister of International Cooperation Rania Al-Mashat signed a financing agreement with the African Development Bank (AfDB) on Sunday worth €145 million ($176 million) with the objective of improving the efficiency and safety of the Egyptian railway system.

Under the agreement, Egypt’s Railway Authority's main lines (Alexandria / Cairo / Assiut / Naga Hammadi and Benha / Port Said line) will be extended with 953 km controlled by the European Train Control System (ETCS-L1) to manage the course of the cars.

The agreement also provides an additional 100 wagons, using the ETCS.

This signing took place in the presence of Egypt’s Minister of Transportation Kamel El-Wazir, the Minister of Transportation, AfDB’s country manager in Egypt Malinne Bloomberg, and the railway authority officials; all alongside the working groups of both ministries.

The agreement encompasses the installment of the ETCS on old cars. The project covers the provision of 260 wagons, of which 110 were supplied and are eligible for the management system.

The ETCS installment will depend less on human control in order to increase the safety and security of railway lines.

Al-Mashat noted that sustainable infrastructure for the transport sector enhances the government’s development plans, adding that through multilateral and bilateral cooperation, the ministry is able to provide financing for the implementation of various projects across multiple sectors.

In the transportation sector, the signed agreement will improve services for citizens and also stimulate the private sector, according to Al-Mashat.

“Transport sector accounts for more than 20 percent of the ongoing development cooperation portfolio of the Ministry of International Cooperation, with a value of $5.13 billion. The development financing is secured through multilateral and bilateral development partnerships, including the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), the European Investment Bank (EIB), and Agence Française de Développement (AFD). The financing is directed towards many projects such as the development of metro lines, the implementation of road projects, and the modernization of railways”, Al-Mashat explained.

Al-Mashat applauded the support coming through AfDB in providing financing for the development of the railway signals project, which is the first contribution of the AfDB in the transportation sector.

She added that the funds will enhance this sector by advancing Egypt’s development vision and work towards achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). The latter includes SDG 8: Decent Work & Economic Growth, SDG 9: Industry, Innovation & Infrastructure, and SDG 11: Sustainable Cities & Communities.

On his side, Minister El-Wazir said that the agreement comes within the framework of the political leadership's directives to develop the existing railway network, including a signaling and communication system that spans various railway lines.

This system controls the speed of the train and records data on its route, while also providing the possibility of automatically stopping the train without the intervention of the driver in the event of any danger to prevent human error.

The agreement also coincides with the Ministry’s implementation of projects that develop and modernize signal systems to increase the safety and security of main lines, according to El-Wazir.

“This is planned to be completed by December 2021 for the Cairo-Alexandria lines and the Benha-Zagazig-Ismailia line. The Port Said line will be 100 percent completed, the Cairo-Aswan line will be 50 percent completed, and the Beni Suef-Nagaa Hammadi-Aswan line will be finished towards the end of December 2021. More work will also be accomplished on the Cairo-Beni Suef-Nagaa Hammadi line. Citizens will begin to feel improvement in transportation services by September 2021 alongside the development of the three lines and signal towers”, said El-Wazir.

AfDB’s Bloomberg noted that the new development financing comes within the framework of the bank’s strategic partnership with Egypt, adding that this will open new horizons for the bank’s work in the transport sector.

She added that the project will support the Ministry of Transportation’s modernisation strategy, and provide 1,200 new jobs in the project’s implementation phase.

The current development cooperation portfolio with the AfDB amounts to $641 million, covering various sectors including agriculture, transportation, water treatment, scientific research and entrepreneurship.

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