A Chinese-Egyptian consortium has been awarded the contract to build and operate a 543-kilometre high-speed rail line in northern Egypt. After an international tender process, the US$9 billion project was awarded to a consortium made up of Samcrete Engineers and Contractors, Arab Organization for Industrialization, China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation, and China Railway Construction Corporation Limited.
The consortium will design, finance, construct and operate the Ain Sokhna to Alamein railway. It will run 543 kilometres from Ain Sokhna in the Suez Governorate to El Alamein in the northern Matrouh Governorate, through the cities including the New Administrative Capital, 6th of October, Burj Al-Arab, and Alexandria.
The government sees better rail infrastructure for both passengers and freight as crucial for economic development. The project has been described as a second Suez Canal, since it connects the Red Sea port of Ain Sukhna to the new Alamein City on the Mediterranean coast in only three hours. The trains will run at a top speed of 250 km/h.
The project will be developed using a combined engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) and financing model. As part of the project award, an agreement is in place with the Chinese partners to jointly build a factory in East Port Said to manufacture train coaches and transfer technology.
Chinese involvement usually brings with it debt finance, and this is the latest high-profile project falling within the framework of the Belt & Road Initiative. Chinese contractors are currently building the Central Business District at the New Administrative Capital near Cairo, which includes the Iconic Tower. They are also developing port and industrial zone facilities near the Suez Canal.
Earlier this year China State Construction Engineering Corporation (CSCEC) said that it is on schedule to hand over the 20 commercial towers comprising the central business district of Egypt’s New Administrative Capital by 2022. The Iconic Tower will be Africa’s tallest skyscraper at 385 metres.
China Development Bank and the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China have both been active in financing the development of the New Administrative Capital.