CAIRO – 29 August 2018: Egyptian Railway Authority is planning to purchase 500 air-conditioned rail carriages for the third class, which comes as part of President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi’s instructions to provide low-income citizens with air-conditioned rail carriages to reduce their suffering in summer’s hot weather.
Head of the Railway Authority, Ashraf Raslan, remarked that the new carriages will be among the 1,300 train carriages the authority plans to purchase.
In the same context, the Egyptian Railway Authority (ERA) issued an international tender in November 2017 to choose a company or alliance that will manufacture and supply new 1,300 rail carriages with the aim to support and develop both passengers and goods transportation.
Around 10 international bids were presented to win this tender, including companies from Russia, Hungary and China. Only two bids, Russian and Chinese, fitted the conditions of the tender. The carriages should be delivered 40 months after signing the contract.
Raslan added that the 1,300 train carriages will include 500 third class air-conditioned carriages, 300 first and second class air-conditioned carriages and 500 ordinary third class carriages, referring that the third class air-conditioned carriages are the same as the current ones in terms of size and number of seats.
“These carriages (the new third-class air-conditioned) will serve in Upper Egypt’s lines due to the high temperature that many citizens suffer from,” Raslan remarked.
He added that the price of these carriages will be less than the current air-conditioned trains to be affordable for the low and medium income citizens.
He referred that 30 percent of the carriages will be manufactured in the Military Production Ministry’s Factory 200 and the factories of the Arab Organization for Industrialization (AOI). The authority will evaluate the two remaining offers and will choose one of them in the upcoming period.
He explained that purchasing the carriages will be funded by the winning bids for the manufacture and supply of 1,300 rail carriages in a form of soft loan.
In 2016, 1,249 accidents were reported on the Egyptian railway network, according to the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS).
A total of 13,539 train accidents occurred between 2004 and 2016, reports CAPMAS, citing numbers released by the National Railway Authority of Egypt.
Egypt's train accidents history
Hence, the Egyptian government decided to focus on the railway sector and worked on rolling out new accident prevention measures to promote rail safety to develop the outdated Egyptian railway network.
Minister of Transport, Hisham Arafat, remarked in a press statement issued in April that Egypt has a comprehensive plan to upgrade all the aspects of Egyptian railway system, including the infrastructure, tractors, signals and train carriages, with a total cost LE 55 billion in a five-year overhaul programme.
Egypt’s Railway Authority is currently upgrading 156 train stations with a total cost of LE 1 billion to improve the services, install the necessary electrical and firefighting equipment, build ramp for the people of special needs, deploy civil safety personnel and restructure tracks.
Furthermore, Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly signed on August 7 a supply and maintenance contract with Austria’s Plasser & Theurer Company to provide Egypt with a Track Recording Car EM100U to measure and analyze defects in Egypt’s railway system and upgrade it.
Madbouly confirmed that signing the contract comes as part of the major steps taken by the government to promote the railway service and scale up the safety of Egypt’s railway.
He referred that the total cost of the contract is € 6.8 million, including the required spare parts, and a contract to maintain tracks for five years.
He added that the new track recording car is one of the most developed trucks in the geometry measuring system, which will replace the old tracks owned by the Egyptian Railway Authority (ERA) for 40 years.
He further explained that the car uses ultrasound and video recordings to detect tracks and rails' flaws and analyze the recorded data to give reports and set plans for the railway’s maintenance and renovations to achieve the necessary safety requirements.
In addition, due to the old locomotives of the ENR fleet, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) delivered a €290 million financing to supply 100 locomotives to provide the customers with higher quality services.
EBRD will help ENR provide technical assistance support to develop and implement a comprehensive freight reform program to separate the freight operations from trains transporting people.
The Egyptian Ministry of Transport and a coalition of Chinese firms signed on August 8, 2017, an agreement worth $1.24 billion to build a light rail transit in new districts around Cairo.
In June 2017, Egypt signed a $575 million agreement with the US-based General Electric Co to provide 100 multi use locomotives, 15-year technical support and spare parts as well as maintenance and upgrade for 81 trains.
Arafat said that the first shipment of locomotives will arrive in 2018 as part of a plan to have goods transported via railway lines by 2022.
To construct new rail lines, Arafat discussed with a delegation from China's AVIC international and China Railway Group Limited (CREC) an offer by the two companies to build Ain Sokhna-Al Alamein railway line.
The two sides reviewed the proposed route of the line, which comprises five main stations; namely Ain Sokhna, New Administrative Capital, 6th of October, Alexandria and Al-Alamein, as well as six sub stations.
The minister asked the Chinese delegation to make some adjustments to the proposed project so that the speed would be increased to 250 km/h instead of 160 km/h and an Alexandria/Borg El-Arab line would be added to the first phase and transformed into a double electric line, according to MENA.
Upgrading railways’ signals
The ENR signed a 3-year contract estimated at €127.2 million with Spanish company Thales Group to modernize its signaling and telecommunications systems and all works related to the 180-kilometer long section of line.
Railway line October 24, 2006 – via Wikimedia Commons
The line runs between the towns of Asiut, Qena and Naga' Hammadi, located in the Upper Egypt portion of the Alexandria–Cairo–Aswan rail corridor.
The project is among ENR's infrastructure transformation plan, promoted by the Ministry of Transportation and financed by the World Bank, according to Spanish newspaper El Periódico. The project aims to improve traffic and allow trains to travel around the country at higher speeds.
The project also includes full protection of signaling and telecommunication systems against cyber-attacks, to ensure safety and system availability and to take all necessary measures to protect civilians from risks of cyber-attacks.
Additionally, ENR signed a contract in 2016 with German- based Siemens to modernize 260 km of railway network in Egypt with advanced technology for signaling, level-crossings and communications.
The routes between Benha and Port Said to the north east and Zagazig and Abu Kebir in the north of Cairo will have their mechanical interlocking systems replaced with modern, centrally controlled electronic systems from Siemens.