COUNCIL OF INTERMODAL SHIPPING CONSULTANTS
ANNO XXXVI - Numero 31 MAGGIO 2018
EGYPT LOOKS TO BUILD RAIL LINKS BETWEEN MEDITERRANEAN AND RED
Egyptian officials said they plan to construct a railroad line
connecting the Red Sea with the Mediterranean via a land bridge.
The project aims to speed up the movement of people and goods
between the two seas to create greater links between upper and lower
Egypt, as well as build rail links between Egypt and Jordan.
The first phase of the line is to connect the Port of Alexandria
in northern Egypt with the Port of Damietta, more than 200km to the
The second phase would stretch more than 500km from the Port of
Damietta to the Port of Nuweiba, a coastal town in the eastern part
of the Sinai Peninsula.
That would effectively link Egypt's Mediterranean region with
the Red Sea region.
A major logistics zone is to be established close to the Port of
An inland terminal for freight distribution is also planned.
"This is a huge project that will take the transport of
goods and people in our country many steps forward," said
Mohamed Ezz, Egyptian Ministry of Transport spokesman.
"This will be the first time the Red Sea and the
Mediterranean will be connected via a means of land transport."
The Ministry of Transport said a financial and technical
assessment of the project was expected to be ready within four
Construction of the new railroad is estimated to cost around
$3.1 billion, which Egypt will find difficult to bear while
implementing economic reforms.
Transport Minister Hasham Arafat on April 27 said the ministry
would invite international consortiums to submit bids to construct
the new line in July.
The new railroad would provide an alternate route between the
Mediterranean and the Red Sea to the Suez Canal.
Sinai will be at the centre of the project, which will link the
Mediterranean ports of Alexandria and Damietta to the Port of
Nuweiba in the Sinai Peninsula.
Egypt said the railroad would be used in the transport of
materials necessary for the rebuilding of Iraq and Syria.
Observers said the project could be in response to an Israeli
plan to circumvent the Suez Canal with a rail freight link between
the Mediterranean and the Red Sea.
The Israeli plan, which was unveiled in February 2014, envisages
a rail line of approximately 300km from the Israeli Port of Eilat on
the Red Sea to the Port of Ashdod on the Mediterranean.
The "Red-Med" project was estimated to cost about $2
The plan to construct Red-Med was made at a time of high tension
in Sinai, where terrorists affiliated with the Islamic State (ISIS)
fired on a Chinese container ship in the canal.
In April 2017, Israel said it would construct a "Tracks for
Peace" railway line to give Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Iraq
access to the Mediterranean.
That link, Tel Aviv said, would extend from the Port of Haifa on
the Mediterranean to Jordan, into Saudi Arabia and to the Arab Gulf.
Israeli officials said the project would offer an alternative
route to the Suez Canal and the Bab el Mandeb Strait, amid concerns
over Iranian threats to close the Strait of Hormuz.
However, Cairo's planned train link between the Mediterranean
and the Red Sea could circumvent Israeli plans.
"By all means, the Egyptian project will substitute the
Israeli projects and provide the necessary speed connection between
the Red Sea and the Mediterranean," said Nourhan al-Sheikh, a
professor of international relations at Cairo University.
"The same link can be used to give our brothers in the Gulf
access to the Mediterranean in case Iran closes off the Strait of
Hormuz as it threatens every now and then."
Egypt has tried to enhance the Suez Canal by digging a parallel
channel, reducing transit time and easing crowded conditions while
allowing giant container ships and vessels to use the canal.
The planned train link would move transportation between the Red
Sea and the Mediterranean many steps further.
Apart from cutting down transportation time, the new link could
serve as the nucleus of an aspiring train connection between North
Africa and the Arab Peninsula, experts said.
"The new project will give Egypt an advanced position on
the international shipping map," said maritime transport expert
"It integrates the railways into the port business, which
will ease transport from the ports to other places."
"The new train link will cause goods to travel the distance
between the Red Sea and the Mediterranean in just 3 hours," Ezz
"Its construction amounts to the digging of a new Suez
Canal, which is a very big thing to do."
(from: thearabweekly.com, May 20th 2018)
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