(CNN) – Passengers and cargo will soon be able to cross the Egyptian desert aboard a high-speed train, a first for the country.
The first line will connect the port cities of Ain Sokhna on the Red Sea to Marsa Matrouh and Alexandria on the Mediterranean. According to the company, the first section of this line will be operational in 2023.
Siemens, which is a project partner with Orascom Construction SAE and The Arab Contractors, says the total contract is about $ 4.5 billion, of which its share is about $ 3 billion.
A “Suez Canal on the rails”
A rendering of the future high speed train in Egypt. Images courtesy of Siemens.
“[The train] will reduce travel times and this will make rail the most efficient travel choice, ”Micheal Peter, CEO of Siemens Mobility, told CNN. “In Egypt the population is growing, the economy is growing – so it will attract a lot more traffic and the question is what kind of transport people and goods will use.
According to Siemens, the connection will transport more than 30 million people per year and reduce travel time by up to 50%, while increasing freight capacity by 15%.
“The high-speed train will strengthen the infrastructure of the areas it passes through and contribute to urban sprawl,” Kamel El-Wazir, Egyptian Minister of Transport, said in a statement.
The hope is that the line will also help promote tourism, an industry the country relies heavily on.
A mega project
Siemens Mobility says it will provide the core technologies – high-speed trains, commuter trains and rail infrastructure – while NAT will build the civil structure, like tunnels and bridges. To carry out the project, he indicates that 15,000 local jobs will be created.
“Completion is expected to be around 2027,” says Peter. “We have a good track record of executing these types of megaprojects.”
In addition, Siemens claims that the electrified system will reduce carbon emissions by 70%, compared to current emissions from car and bus transport.
Peter says Siemens will sign contracts to build the next two lines in the network, connecting the Greater Cairo area to Aswan, and Luxor via Hurghada to Safaga.
“This first line is only part of the whole,” he says. “I expect a signing very soon.”