CAIRO: The Egyptian Railway Authority (ERA) has taken delivery of three new Russian trains which will join the existing Egyptian fleet servicing the governorates of Cairo, Alexandria, Assuit and Luxor.
The trains were decorated with flowers, Egyptian flags and pictures of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi and the Minister of Transport, Kamel El-Wazir.
The delivery is the first of its type from Russia, following an ERA contract with Russian company Transmashholding, the country’s largest locomotive and rail equipment manufacturer. The contract involves building and supplying 1,300 train carriages, some with air-conditioning capabilities.
The first batch of 33 railroad cars arrived recently. 22 arrived several days ago and 10 came at the end of last week. A prototype vehicle is being tested without passengers to ensure the safety of the train cars before the start of full commercial operation.
The 33 cars form three trains and will continue to operate without passengers until the beginning of August. The vehicles will operate on a daily basis until they begin to accept passengers.
The new trains will operate on the main lines in lower and upper Egypt and will replace some railroad cars in use. They are scheduled to move to branch lines used to transport passengers between governorates and suburbs.
As of next month, Egypt is scheduled to receive 35 new railroad cars a month. The contract states that 1,300 railroad cars will be delivered over a 40-month period.
The contract includes the manufacturing of 800 air-conditioned vehicles, 500 of which are third-class. The deal is the largest in the history of the ERA.
The 500 coaches also include 180 second-class air-conditioned cars, 90 first-class air-conditioned cars and 30 which include buffet services. A further 500 third-class carriages include advanced ventilation methods.
Tickets for new carriages will be 20 to 30 percent higher than those of regular services. The contract is estimated to cost over €1 billion ($1.1 billion), funded by a joint soft loan from the EximBank of Russia and the Hungarian EximBank.
The ERA also delivered a number of newly developed carriages built in the SEMAF factory, which is part of the Arab Organization for Manufacturing.
The trains will be sent to cities including Alexandria, Zagazig, Mansoura, Tanta, Minya, Assiut, Sohag, Luxor and Aswan. The move is intended to demonstrate the willingness of the Ministry of Transportation to put passengers first.
Kamel El-Wazir, the transport minister, visited Ramses Station in downtown Cairo to inspect the new trains and oversee preparations for their operation. The tour included the new Russian trains and those refurbished in Egypt.
El-Wazir said in December last year that by June 30, Egyptian railways would “see new life,” with new carriages and coaches helping to reduce passenger congestion.