Egyptian rail on track as first Russian trains arrive

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Updated 19 July 2020

Egyptian rail on track as first Russian trains arrive

  • The new trains will operate on the main lines in lower and upper Egypt and will replace some railroad cars in use

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.

NUMBER

1,300 train carriages, some with air-conditioning capabilities, are being supplied to Cairo by Russian company Transmashholding

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.


Lebanese restaurant attracts star support following Beirut blasts

Updated 10 min 52 sec ago

Lebanese restaurant attracts star support following Beirut blasts

  • Oscar-winning actor Russell Crowe donated $5,000 to the fund, set up by a group of Beirut-based foreign correspondents
  • Operating on a plat-du-jour formula, each day of the week would serve a homemade Lebanese specialty

LONDON: Lebanese restaurant Le Chef found an unlikely high-profile supporter after a GoFundMe page was set up to save the diner from ruin following the Beirut blasts on August 4.

Oscar-winning actor Russell Crowe donated $5,000 to the fund, set up by a group of Beirut-based foreign correspondents.

When Richard Hall, one of the organizers and the former-Beirut correspondent of UK daily The Independent, highlighted the generous donation, Crowe tweeted: “On behalf of Anthony Bourdain. I thought that he would have probably done so if he was still around. I wish you and LeChef the best and hope things can be put back together soon.” Celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain took his life two years ago.

Tucked away in the middle of the Gemmayze district, Le Chef – commonly seen as one of Beirut’s must-try hole-in-the-wall diners for tourists – was badly damaged in the recent blast.

The tiny diner with its neon-red logo and checkered tables was second home to many of the street’s residents and the country’s foreign correspondents. It featured in Bourdain’s report from Beirut during his travel show Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations in 2006.

“And yet I'd already fallen in love with Beirut. We all had — everyone on my crew. As soon as we'd landed, headed into town, there was a reaction I can only describe as pheromonic: The place just smelled good. Like a place we were going to love,” Bourdain’s field notes during his time on CNN's Parts Unknown said.

Operating on a plat-du-jour formula, each day of the week would serve a homemade Lebanese specialty – with Thursday’s mloukhiyye and rice a favorite among many journalists, according to Arab News’ correspondent Leila Hatoum.

“When I worked as a reporter based in Gemmayze between 2002 and 2006, Le Chef was the restaurant that provided home-cooked style meals at such affordable prices and in generous quantities…each dish literally could feed two persons,” Hatoum said.

“It was the meeting point for every reporter in the area, be it foreign or local. I would say Le Chef was the ‘it’ place for affordable but great home-cooked food.”

Other dishes include rice and lamb (kharouf mehshi) on Mondays, spiced Lebanese couscous with chicken (moughrabiyye) on Tuesdays, kibbeh bil sayniyye on Wednesdays, rice and fish (sayyidiye) on Fridays and roast lamb with potatoes on Saturdays.

“Le Chef was different, everything they served was as though my mom cooked it,” Netherlands-based designer Rawad Baaklini told Arab News.

“And it was so cheap! Their dishes were big compared to the price they charged. They used to deliver, so for me ordering from them was like eating at home,” Baaklini said, recalling his time working at a studio based in the area.

“My favorite dish was the kibbeh bel sayniyye … It was magical, I don’t know how they made it, but it was every time great.”