By Sami Zaptia.
London, 20 January 2021:
The Chairman of Libyan-Egyptian Chamber of Commerce Ibrahim al-Garary told Sky News Arabia that Egypt and Libya contemplate extending Egypt’s high-speed electric train – to be accomplished in two years – to Libya. The news was reported Monday (18 January) by Egypttoday.com
The railway stretches between Red Sea’s Ain Sokhna to the Mediterranean’s Alamein city. The line can be lengthened to Libya’s Benghazi through Egypt’s Saloum town, it reported.
Garari was reported as stating that the government of his country intends to invest in the project to boost its accomplishment rate. He added that the Libyan committee concerned with the matter will hold meetings with the Egyptian side next week. The meetings also consist of planning for the Libyan-Egyptian Economic Forum to be held in February.
The businessman added that joint railways were among the 10 cooperation agreements signed in 1991.
On January 13, the Ministry of Transport represented by the National Tunnels Authority had signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Siemens to implement an integrated system for the express electric train in Egypt.
The total length of the railroads to be extended within the project is 1,000 kilometers, and that the total cost is LE 360 billion. The distance between Ain Sokhna and Alamain is 460 kilometers.
German Siemens’s CEO Joe Kaeser said the new high-speed electric train project that the company will implement in Egypt will help provide 15,000 job opportunities in the field of construction in its first phase.
This phase will also provide 2,000 permanent job opportunities, Kaeser said in an interview with Sherif Amer on MBC Masr, adding that the train project will be similar to the one in Germany.
Egypt to cement political relations with eastern Libya
The announcement was first made by Egyptian Transport Minister Kamel Al-Wazir during a Cairo press conference in November last year.
The Benghazi line is part of the Egyptian government’s larger plans to develop its rail transport network which includes a link to Sudan.
Analysts see Egypt’s intention to build a rail link to Benghazi as an attempt not only to improve economic links, but also an attempt to cement its current political links with eastern Libya.
It will be recalled that in the war on Tripoli (April 2019 – June 2020), Egypt supported the eastern-based Khalifa Hafter. Hafter failed to take Tripoli and his forces were pushed back to Sirte.
Libya’s rail project stalled by 2011 revolution
It will be recalled that Libya’s railway project, running across the coast and down south to Sebha, has been stalled since the 2011 revolution with the lack of funds and insecurity preventing foreign contractors from resuming their work, despite a number of announcements to the contrary.
Libya’s US $12 billion rail project was split between Russian Railways (RZhD), tasked in 2008 with building the 554-km line between Sirte and Benghazi, and the China Railway Construction Corporation (CRCC).
The Chinese were awarded a contract in 2008 to build the line from Sirte to Khoms and then on to the Tunisian border at Ras Jedir. The Chinese also won the contract to build the 800-kilometre line between Misrata and Wadi Shatti near Sebha. Both started on their projects but were forced to stop work with the advent of the 2011 revolution.