Egypt’s train services are about to receive a major boost with two new initiatives in progress. New trains built by a Russian-Hungarian consortium are joining the existing network and a brand new high-speed train line will be built, all adding up to a vastly improved experience for tourists who like to travel by train.
Egypt was the site of Africa’s first railway in 1854 and although there have obviously been numerous upgrades since then, the network is starting to show its age. Accidents and delays are not uncommon. The new rolling stock and infrastructure, as well as a plan to modernise the signalling system, will go a long way towards improving the situation.
The first of the new trains have been delivered and will join the existing Egyptian fleet servicing Cairo (above), Alexandria, Assiut and Luxor. The remainder of the 1,300 train carriages ordered will be delivered at the rate of 35 per month over the next three years.
The second initiative is Egypt’s first ever high-speed train line connecting the Red Sea to the Mediterranean. The route will cover 1,000 kilometres with 15 stops along the way, including the New Administrative Capital outside of Cairo. This first section will span 460 kilometres, linking El Alamein on Egypt's Mediterranean coast and Ain Sokhna on the western shore of the Gulf of Suez. It is due for completion in 2023 and will cost $3 billion.
Of particular interest to tourists are plans for a second high-speed line linking the Red Sea’s main port with Alexandria and the port of Matrouh Gargoub, a third line that would link Hurghada and Safaga with Qena and Luxor; and a fourth to link Six October City with Luxor and Aswan. The total cost is estimated at $23 billion.
Once completed, the high-speed rail link will make it possible to travel from Alexandria to Aswan in about three-and-a-half hours, a massive improvement on the current average journey time of around 12 hours.