Egypt’s first electric LTR project is the latest success of China’s rail technology export to Africa

Photo shows the Light Rail Transit train during a trial run at Adly Mansour station in Cairo, Egypt, on June 30, 2022. Egypt is building its first light rail transit (LRT) system, which will be the first mass transit to connect the New The administrative capital of Greater Cairo after its completion. (Photo: Xinhua)

Egypt’s first electrified light rail transport (LRT) system, jointly built by Chinese and Egyptian companies, began trial runs on Sunday with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi taking the first ride, according to a report on the website of the Chinese Embassy in Egypt on Monday.

Chinese experts said the project, the latest in a series of mega infrastructure projects that Chinese companies delivered to customers around the world in the past week, was a major success of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), reflecting the vitality and potential of the China Railway Technology Export to Africa initiative.

The trial launch of the LRT project in Egypt follows the start of full commercial operation of Pakistan’s giant 720-megawatt Karot hydroelectric plant on June 29 and the delivery to Bangladesh of the 6.15-kilometer Padma Bridge on June 25, the country’s longest.

The rail project connects Egypt’s new administrative capital being built east of Cairo to the surrounding outlying new cities and neighborhoods, including El-Salam City, 10th of Ramadan City, El-Obur City, Badr City and El-Shoruk City.

The line is the first electrified LRT in both Egypt and Africa, according to the Chinese embassy, ‚Äč‚Äčnoting that it will boost the economy in eastern Egypt and accelerate Egypt’s industrialization.

Built by a consortium of China Railway Group and AVIC International Holding Corp, the $1.24 billion LRT will provide an efficient commuting service for 5 million local people.

The first phase of the LRT project includes 22 trains and has a daily transport capacity of 360,000 passengers, Xinhua news agency reported on Monday, citing Egypt’s transport minister.

The project is the latest Chinese railway project in Africa, following other landmark projects including the Mombasa-Nairobi standard gauge railway in Kenya, the Addis Ababa-Djibouti railway in the Horn of Africa and the Chinese-built Lagos-Ibadan railway in Nigeria.

“China has been building infrastructure in African countries for many years, and investment in African countries has surpassed most Western countries and the IMF,” He Wenping, director of the African Studies Department at the Institute of West Asian and African Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told Global Times on Monday.

He said China’s railway projects carry technological components and standards, and Chinese-made railway systems are welcomed by African countries for their high efficiency and low cost.

“China has advanced railway construction technology that has reached a level that can be exported abroad,” Zhao Jien, a professor at Peking Jiaotong University, told the Global Times on Monday. Zhao noted that Chinese enterprises have the ability to complete the construction mission, but the LRT system may put financial pressure on system operators.

Chinese Ambassador to Egypt Liao Liqiang hailed the LRT project as a landmark cooperation program between China and Egypt under the BRI while attending the opening ceremony held on Saturday at Adly Mansour Station, the largest transfer station in the Middle East.

Since 2000, Chinese companies have built more than 10,000 kilometers of railways in Africa, in addition to more than 100,000 kilometers of roads, nearly 1,000 bridges, nearly 100 ports and a huge number of hospitals and schools, according to China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs .

“The LTR will directly benefit the livelihood of Egyptians amid the current global fuel price spikes, and it is an important milestone in the China-Africa cooperation process,” he noted.

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