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Egyptian Railway Authority (ERA) will allow the private sector to operate the Cairo-Alexandria railway line after modernizing the line’s signaling and updating it to an electronic system, according to Chairman of the Railways Authority Sayed Salem.
This comes after the House of Representatives approved on May 4, 2018, the amendments to the 1980 Railway Act that allows private-sector participation in developing, managing, and operating railway projects for no more than 15 years.
The amendments aim to rescue the vital railways sector that suffers from massive debt and outdated operation systems through allowing private investment to modernize the sector and get rid of its massive debts.
Salem told Egypt Today that French Company Thales is implementing a LE 310 million (€ 70.5 million) project for the modernization of the signaling and telecommunications systems of the Cairo-Alexandria railway line.
The line runs between the towns of Asiut, Qena and Nag Hammadi, located in the Upper Egypt portion of the Alexandria–Cairo–Aswan rail corridor.
In this regard, he remarked that modernizing the signaling of the line between Arab El Ram land Alexandria,as well as Arab El Raml and Cairo on the Cairo - Alexandria main line is set to be finished in the first quarter of 2019 and by mid-2019,respectively.
The project is among ERA's infrastructure transformation plan, promoted by the Ministry of Transportation and financed by the World Bank. The project aims to improve traffic and allow trains to travel around the country at higher speeds.
Salem added that after implementing the modernization project, the private sector will be allowed to operate the line and the authority will not interfere in the private sector’s decision regarding the price of the ticket.
In the same context, he referred that ERA is implementing four projects to re-signal the main line from Benha, on the Cairo - Alexandria main line, via Zagazig to Port Said, and from Zagazig to Abu Kebir in the northeast of the country.
The Egyptian government has decided to focus on the railway sector and worked on rolling out new accident prevention measures to promote rail safety; most recently was the inducement of a new system, entitled the license system, which is expected to take effect in the beginning of 2019.
According to the Railway Authority, approximately 1,000 train collision accidents takeplace in Egypt annually.
The new system stipulates that the worker must undergo drug and psychological tests as a strict and indispensible condition to take on any rail-related job, in addition to advanced trainings and courses to ensure optimal performance.
Also, workers need to subject to similar tests when renewing their work license every two years.
According to the Railway Authority, and under the new system, no worker can be transferred to work in other railway lines before undergoing training courses dedicated specifically for each respective line.
This article first appeared on www.egypttoday.com
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