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Urban Rail Projects in Egypt: Plans to develop nearly 520 km of network [free access]

November 1, 2020

Egypt’s large and growing population, combined with its rapid economic growth, has brought the need for a robust and extensive railway network into sharper focus. To meet this demand, the government has announced plans to expand and modernise several rail projects in Cairo and Alexandria. Further, the government has also announced plans to introduce new modes of transport, which include monorail, high-speed rail, and light rail transit (LRT) systems, for the first time in Egypt. In order to accelerate the expansion of the rail projects and to ensure the availability of adequate funds, the government has announced plans to allocate USD8.9 million towards improving the country’s railway system by 2022, under its infrastructure development programme.

 

Box 1 outlines the scope of the plan.

 

 

Box 1: Egypt’s infrastructure development programme

 

In 2019, the government of Egypt announced an infrastructure development programme,

which outlined plans to overhaul Egypt’s railway network. The scope of work under the plan includes undertaking infrastructural improvements, expanding existing rail lines, building new rail lines, building workshops, procuring new trains, and building new stations. The plan focuses on the construction of electric railway lines, monorail lines, and high-speed rail (HSR) lines.

 

Source: Global Mass Transit Research

 

Existing Network

 

Egypt’s current urban rail network spans over 103.5 km in length and serves 101 stations. More than 80 per cent of the existing rail network is dominated by the Cairo Metro rail. Table 1 provides the details of the existing metro and the LRT network in the region.

 

Table 1: Details of existing network of key rail projects in Egypt

 

Project

Current network length (km)

No. of stations

Cairo Metrorail

83.05 

69

Alexandria light rail line

20

32

Total

103.5

101

Source: Global Mass Transit Research

 

Cairo Metrorail Project

 

The Cairo Metro is the only underground metro network in Africa. It comprises three lines, which together span over 83 km and serve 69 stations. It has been developed by the National Authority for Tunnels (NAT) and is operated by the state-owned Egyptian Company for Metro Management and Operation (ECM). Table 2 provides the details of the existing metro network in Cairo.

 

Table 2: Details of existing network of Cairo Metro

 

Line

Length (km)

No. of stations

Cost (million EUR)

Line 1 (Blue Line)

44.3 (4.7 km underground)

35

256.40

Line 2 (Red Line)

21.6

20

1,153.80

Line 3 (Revolution Line)

12

9

972

Phase IV-A 

5.15

5

264

Total

83.05

69

2,646.2

Source: Global Mass Transit Research

 

The daily ridership on Cairo Metro’s existing network was 3.5 million passengers at the end of 2019.

 

Rolling stock: The current fleet comprises railcars from Alstom, Hyundai Rotem, Kinki Sharyo, Mitsubishi Corporation, Toshiba Corporation, and SEMAF.

 

Hyundai Rotem had supplied 20 nine-car air-conditioned trains for Lines 1 and 2 in 2015 and 2016 under an EGP2.16 billion contract secured in 2012. The contract includes a two-year warranty and provides for maintenance for a further eight years.

 

Fare system: Spain-based IDOM has provided technical assistance for implementing an automated fare collection (AFC) system based on contactless smartcards for Lines 1, 2, and 3. Thales has provided the TransCity ticketing and supervision system on Lines 1 and 2 under a contract secured in December 2015. The fare media comprises magnetic-stripe tickets and contactless smart cards using Web 2.0 technologies. The company has supplied 850 access gates, 100 ticket-vending terminals, and 75 portable ticket control terminals. It has implemented a new system to allow the supervision of all data generated across the existing network.

 

Alexandria light rail line (Raml light rail line) 

 

The line currently spans 20 km, serves 32 stations, and connects El Nasr (Victoria) district to Mansheya Square. In November 2020, the NAT announced plans for the rehabilitation of Alexandria’s Raml light rail line.

 

Future Plans

 

The NAT has announced plans to expand, modernise, and construct several projects in Egypt. The authority plans to further expand the Cairo Metro, construct the Cairo LRT, launch the Alexandria Metro, undertake the Salam Electric Train Project, and implement the 6th of October City Monorail Project. Plans have also been announced to modernise the existing Alexandria light rail line. Further, Egypt’s Ministry of Transportation has announced plans to develop the Ain Sokhna–New Alamein HSR. Table 3 provides the details of the upcoming network of the key rail projects in Egypt.

 

Table 3: Details of upcoming network of key rail projects in Egypt

 

Project

Planned network length (km)

No. of stations (planned)

Planned extensions/new projects

Cairo Metrorail Project

216+

85

Cairo LRT

67.8

11

Alexandria Metro

45.5

18

Salam Electric Train Project

90

16

6th of October City Monorail Project

100

34

Total

519.3

164

Modernisation

Alexandria light rail line modernisation 

13.7 

28 

 

Cairo Metrorail Project

 

The NAT has announced plans to expand the existing lines and to introduce new lines in order to make Cairo Metro more accessible and efficient. The details of the Cairo Metro network expansion plans are as follows.

 

Line 1 extension: It will span 1.2 km (double-track) from El-Marg to New El-Marg station, covering one station. In March 2016, a consortium of Colas Rail, Alstom, and Alstom Egypt secured a EUR24.7 million contract to renovate and upgrade the existing infrastructure, construct new tracks, replace overhead lines, widen the platforms at the New El-Marg station, and construct associated facilities. Passenger services were scheduled to commence in 2018; no further updates are available.

 

Rehabilitation of Line 1: The project includes renewal of the signalling system, the telecommunication equipment, the centralised train control system, the power supply system, and the tracks.

 

In October 2017, the European Investment Bank (EIB) approved a loan of EUR180 million. In August 2018, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) announced plans to provide EUR105 million. In February 2018, the Le groupe Agence française de développement (AFD), the EIB, and the EBRD announced plans to provide total financing of EUR600 million.

 

The contracts are yet to be awarded.

 

Line 2 extension: Line 2 will span 9 km and is planned to be extended to Qalyoub City. Systra is the detailed design and feasibility studies consultant for the project. It will advise on the best route for the proposed extension, the number of stations, and the potential interchange points with other transport modes.

 

Line 3: Line 3 will span 43.3 km (30.2 km underground) from Cairo Airport to Rod El Faraq / Cairo University, covering 33 stations (23 underground). It is being developed in four phases of which two phases are operational and two phases (around 24.45 km) are under construction.

 

In September 2020, the NAT awarded RATP Dev a 15-year operation and maintenance contract for Line 3. RATP Dev Mobility Cairo is responsible for the operation and maintenance as well as the commissioning of ongoing extensions of the line.

 

South Korea-based Hyundai Rotem will supply 288 metro cars under contracts secured in February 2017 and August 2018. The company will supply 256 metro cars for the Line 3 Phase III extension at a cost of USD377.5 million and will maintain the metro cars for a period of eight years. In June 2020, Hyundai Rotem began delivery of the 256 metro cars (32 eight-car trains). The remaining 32 cars will be deployed on Phases III and IV. The procurement of these 32 metro cars will be funded by a EUR243 million loan provided by the Economic Development Cooperation Fund of South Korea. The loan will carry an annual interest rate of 0.1 per cent and a term of 33 years, with a grace period of 20 years. As per the agreement, a total of 30 per cent of the train components will be manufactured locally in Egypt.

 

Line 3 Phase III will span 17.7 km from Attaba to Cairo University, covering 15 stations. The Government of Egypt is funding the project cost of EUR344 million. The daily ridership is expected to be five million passengers.

 

A consortium led by France-based Vinci Construction Grands Projets secured a USD1.2 billion contract for construction. Tunnelling commenced in May 2018 and is scheduled to be completed by 2022. US-based Hill International is managing the construction and providing technical assistance under a USD4.4 million contract.

 

Thales will supply the fare collection system. Alstom will supply the signalling and power supply systems as well as the track infrastructure under a EUR190 million contract secured in November 2015.

 

Line 3 Phase IV-C will span 6.65 km (underground) from Al Hegaz to Cairo Airport. ACE Moharram Bakhoum is the project management consultant. It will work in partnership with Systra to provide design consultancy services.

 

Line 4: It will span at least 55 km from the outskirts of the suburb of 6th of October City to El-Malek El-Saleh district. It will be developed in four phases. It is scheduled to be fully operational by 2023.

 

Phase I will span 18.8 km from the multimodal station west of the Ring Road to El-Remayah Square, covering 17 stations. It will intersect with Line 1 at the El-Malek El-Saleh station and with Line 2 in Giza.

 

Construction began in January 2016. In March 2012, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) granted a 30-year loan of EUR392 million (with a grace period of 10 years). In September 2016, the NAT awarded the USD10 million consultancy contract for Phase I to a consortium of three Japanese companies (Nippon Koei, Nippon Civic, and Oriental Consultancy) and two local companies (Ace Consulting Engineers and Ehaf Consulting Engineers). Passenger operations are expected to commence in 2024.

 

Line 5: It will span 24 km (17 km underground) from Nasr City to Sawah and Al Sahil, covering 17 underground stations. It is currently under planning. It is estimated to cost USD4 billion.

 

Line 6: It will span 20 km from Shubra Al Kheimah to the Maadi and Helwan districts, covering 24 stations (12 underground). The line will have interchange facilities at Ghamra station (Line 1) and at Fustat station (Line 4). Canada-based Bombardier will finance and construct the line under a USD4 billion contract secured in July 2017. Daily ridership is estimated to be 500,000 passengers. Passenger operations are expected to commence in 2022.

 

Rolling stock: In August 2019, South Korea-based Hyundai Rotem secured a USD131 million contract to supply six trains and related spare parts as well as provide maintenance services for eight years for Cairo Metro Line 2. The contract is a part of the country’s USD1.8 billion integrated plan to renovate Metro Lines 1 and 2. It is being funded by a loan from the EBRD. In January 2019, the NAT had awarded a USD134.5 million contract to Hyundai Rotem to supply and maintain 48 railcars for the system. The delivery of the railcars is expected to be completed by 2023 and maintenance services will be provided until 2031. The railcars will be deployed on Line 2.

 

 

Cairo LRT

 

The Cairo LRT is an upcoming light rail system, which will span 67.8 km, serve 11 stations, and connect Adly Mansour (Cairo Metro Line 3 station) to El-Robeiky, before branching north towards 10th of Ramadan City and south towards the New Capital City. The project is estimated to cost around USD1.2 billion. Construction was scheduled to commence in November 2017, but no further updates are available.

 

In January 2019, the Export and Import Bank of China had signed a loan agreement with Egypt’s Ministry of Transport to provide a USD1.2 billion soft loan for the project. The agreement comprises a USD739 million loan for the rolling stock, with an interest rate of 1.8 per cent, and another USD461 million loan for the infrastructure, with an interest rate of 2 per cent. The duration of both the loans is 20 years, including a grace period of five years.

 

Alexandria Metro

 

In August 2020, the Governor of Alexandria announced plans to develop a new metro system in Alexandria. The proposed metro will span 45.5 km, serve 18 stations, and connect Abu Qir to Burg al-Arab. The project is expected to cost around USD2.5 billion. Operations are expected to commence in 2022.

 

The 18 stations that will be served by the metro are Abu Qir, Tousoun, al-Mamoura, al-Salah, al-Muntazah, Mandara, al-Asafra, Miami, Sidi Bishr, Victoria, al-Souq, Dhahriya, Sidi Gaber, Sporting, al-Hadrah, Gabriel, Bab Sharq, and Misr Station.

 

The metro includes 6 km of an elevated section. The remaining track will be at-grade.

 

The project will be developed in three phases:

 

Phase I: It will span 22 km and connect Abu Qir to Misr Station.

Phase II: It will span 8 km and connect Misr Station to the al-Max area.

Phase III: It will span 15.5 km and connect the al-Max area to the end of the line.

 

Salam Electric Train Project

 

The proposed Salam Electric Train Project will span 90 km, serve 16 stations, and connect the New Administrative Capital to al-Salam City.

 

In October 2020, Egypt’s Minister of Transportation announced the timeline for the completion of the project. All civil works are expected to be completed by the end of December 2020 and all electromechanical works are expected to be completed by the end of July 2021. Trial runs are expected to start in August 2021, and the system is expected to be fully operational by October 2021.

 

The Minister of Transportation has also announced plans to extend the electric train (southward) to Sports City. The extension will span 14 km and serve three stations. Plans have also been announced to extend the train (northward) to El Tenth. The extension will span 5.3 km and serve two stations.

 

The total cost of the project is around USD2.5 billion. The project will be partly funded by a USD67 million loan from the Exim Bank of China.

 

6th of October City Monorail project

 

The 6th of October City Monorail project is a planned monorail line, being developed by the NAT. It will span 100 km and serve 34 stations.

 

-       The first line will span 57 km and will connect East Cairo to the New Administrative Capital.

-       The second line will span 42 km and will connect 6th of October City to Giza.

 

It is expected to cost around USD4 billion.

 

In September 2020, US-based Hill International secured a contract to provide project management, design review, and implementation supervision services for the project. The scope of works includes the construction of 34 stations, maintenance facilities, depots, and an Operations Control Centre.

 

Alexandria light rail line (modernisation)

 

Alexandria LRT (also known as Al Raml Tram) commenced passenger operations in 1863. It is one of the oldest LRT systems in the world and the oldest operating LRT system in Africa. The current network comprises 20 lines which together span 32 km and cover 140 stops.

 

In June 2018, the Ministry of Transportation of Egypt and the city government of Alexandria announced plans to commence the upgrade works, which are expected to be completed by 2022.

 

In November 2020, the NAT awarded a contract to a Systra-led consortium for the design and supervision of the rehabilitation of Al Raml Tram. The consortium, which includes ACE, Egis, and its subsidiary Projacs, will cover the preliminary design of the project, the preparation and evaluation of tender documents, and the supervision of works. The upgrades are expected to reduce the end-to-end journey time between Raml and Victoria by half, to triple the passenger capacity, and to encourage greater use of public transport. Rehabilitation of the line will be carried out over the span of 34 months. This includes a design phase of 10 months and an implementation phase of at least two years.

 

The scope of work includes the removal of one existing branch, the relocation of some stations, the installation of electronic signalling, the construction of footbridges, and the complete renewal of the rolling stock. The rehabilitation of the line is expected to cost around EUR360 million.

 

Conclusion

 

The total rail network in Egypt is expected to expand more than nine times, from the existing 103.5 km to a planned 519.3 km. More importantly, the rail network expansion plans do not just focus on the expansion of the existing modes (metro and LRT), but also provide for the introduction of new modes. The majority of the upcoming rail projects in Egypt are concentrated around the largest city, Cairo, and the second largest city, Alexandria. Out of the total of 519.3 km of the planned railway network in the country, nearly 473.8 km (91 per cent) is planned in Cairo. The NAT is developing all the rail projects in Cairo, except the Ain Sokhna–New Alamein HSR project, which is being developed by Egypt’s Ministry of Transportation.

 

Egypt’s plans to expand and modernise its rail network are expected to increase the efficiency and penetration of public transportation in the country to a great extent. However, considering the large number of planned projects (three new modes) concentrated in the two largest cities, combined with the unexpected hurdles thrown up with the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, the main challenge for the government will be to minimise delays. While some projects have been indefinitely delayed, such as the Cairo LRT, other projects like the Cairo Metro have been developing at an accelerated rate thanks to the government’s effort to support rail projects in the country to ensure the operation of a more robust railway network. Hence, in order for the government to achieve the goal of expanding Egypt’s rail network, it will be vital to efficiently use the funds allocated for rail projects, under the infrastructure development programme, to minimise delays and to revive stalled projects.

 

 

 

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