By Mostafa Salah
Egypt’s Railway Authority is set to begin development on a new electric railway system in March, extending from Alexandria to Cairo. The authority is also set to hold an auction to construct a line extending from Bani Suyuf to Assiut beginning in April, at a cost of $600m. Both are to be funded by a loan from the World Bank, and are part of a 5 year plan to develop Egypt’s railway system.
Sayyid Hamid, vice president of the National Egyptian Railway Authority’s Infrastructure Division, said that the Alexandria-Cairo line will be the first to be constructed, and will be completed within four years at a cost of $270m. Construction for the 250 km line stretching from Bani Suef to Asyut is set to begin in January 2014, after the authority secures a $330m loan from the World Bank.
He added that electric traffic signals and station lights would be included in both of these plans.
He went on to say that the authority sought to provide necessary funds to develop a line stretching from Zagazig to Port Said to Cairo by the end of this year.
He added that the construction of these railways would not be included in the authority’s upcoming auction.
Hamid stated that the number one problem currently facing the authority had to do with the lack of manpower available to monitor and oversee the new railways, pointing out that funding had been requested to hire 1,885 station guards, but that enough had only been provided to pay for 225.
Yahya Ibrahim, vice president of the Railway Authority’s Financial and Economic Affairs Division, stated that bids would be open in April for the rights to the Bani Suef-Assiut electric railway. He added that the authority’s $600m World Bank loan should not be considered a form of cash funding, but was rather compensation for the implementation of these projects.
He added that the authority and the World Bank were coordinating to qualify and vet those companies competing in the bidding process.
The authority also announced that it would extend the bidding period for the rights to construct 150 new stations to February after a number of companies requested an extension during the holiday season.
It was decided that plans to construct new railway development projects would begin in April, after the financial and logistical aspects of each offer were reviewed. This process was expected to cost a total of EGP 200m.