Saudi Railways Organization will develop SR365bn network
The Saudi Railways Organization (SRO) is working on a SR365 billion (£58bn) strategic plan for developing the railway network in the Kingdom and implementing several projects to interlink the country's provinces by the year 2040.
The main objective of the Saudi Railway Master Plan 2010 - 2040 (SRMP) is to have a conceptual framework in place for the long term development of a future passenger and freight transport network for the Kingdom spanning 9,900km with 19 lines.
The lines are at various development levels and shall be implemented in the following three stages of development: First Level Projects (high priority): development stage 1 from 2010 – 2025 approximate length: 5,500 km; Second Level Projects (medium priority): development stage 2 from 2026 – 2033 approximate length: 3,000 km; Third Level Projects (minor priority): development stage 3 from 2034 – 2040 approximate length: 1,400 km.
The Haramain high speed railway and a north-south line are currently under construction, and a line connecting Jeddah to Riyadh is set to begin soon. Work on the railway link between Gulf countries is also expected to commence soon.
Muhammad Al-Suwaiket, SRO president, said the state-owned organisation is working to rectify the poor performance of lines between Dammam and Al-Ahsa through Abqaiq by redeveloping internal departments.
“The organization seeks to maintain passenger safety and build a good reputation by implementing plans over the next 20 years to cover all major cities of the Kingdom,” he said.
“We will review and redesign training programs for operating trains with the help of international, specialized institutions. The huge GCC railway project will start from Kuwait and go through the Kingdom, Bahrain, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, ending in Oman.
France to invest €1.8bn in Egypt’s infrastructure
France will invest a total of €1.8bn into Egypt’s infrastructure focusing specifically on upgrading the Cairo Metro, building a railway to Sudan, and developing water and energy schemes. Officials have called the investment a “major boost to bilateral cooperation”.
The Cairo Metro
Included in the financing is a concessional government loan of around €800mn to upgrade Line 1 of the Cairo Metro, introduced in the 1980s. The financing will pay for 55 trainsets for the line and is provided by the French engineering company, Alstom.
Line 6 is also due to be upgraded using further state-guaranteed loans worth up to €2bn. Bruno Le Maire said that this would be negotiated over the next six months. France and Egypt have worked in close cooperation ever since Abdel Fattah al-Sisi became president in 2014, despite differences over human rights and strong criticism of Egypt by rights activists and some foreign states.
Nine more projects over the next half a decade
A further €1bn from France’s development agency, Agence Française de Développement (AFD), aims to cover a range of other projects over the next half a decade.
These projects include a railway line between Aswan, southern Egypt, and Wadi Halfa in Sudan, as well as several projects in the renewable energy and water purification industries. Bruno Le Maire, France’s Finance Minister, said Egypt was a “strategic partner and commercial dealings with it would be developed. France will substantially increase its direct exposure to Egypt, becoming the first counter-party for government to government loans,” he said.
According to Le Maire, the AFD will also €150mn to support the construction of a universal health insurance programme. French contractors such as Vinci and Bouygues have a long history of working on the Egyptian capital’s underground system.
Talking about the relationship between France And Egypt, Le Maire concluded: “France will substantially increase its direct exposure to Egypt, becoming the first counter-party for government to government loans”.