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Cairo metro spreads its tentacles




To ease its chronic traffic congestion, Cairo's is continually investing in extending its metro system. Work is currently in progress on phase 3 of line no. 3 which, when finished, will link the airport to the city centre.



The Cairo metro is set to cover the entire urban area (photo CC-D. Bocquet)
The Cairo metro is set to cover the entire urban area (photo CC-D. Bocquet)
EGYPT. A sprawling city of almost 18 million inhabitants (20 forecast by 2020), Cairo, like all great capital cities -Mediterranean or otherwise- suffers from acute traffic congestion.

The Cairo metro system saw its first trains run in September 1987 after 23 years of construction work. At the time, the Egyptian capital was the first city on the African Continent have a metro. Line 1 has 35 stations (five of them underground) and line 2, opened in four phases between October 1996 and January 2005, has 20 (of which 12 are underground).

Through the National Authority for Tunnels, (NAT), the city is continually investing to extend its metro system with the aim of covering all the urban area and providing connections to other forms of public transport. After lines 1 and 2, line 3 is now starting to take shape.

The line's construction began in July 2007. Two of the four phases have already been delivered, in 2012 and May 2014, with five and four station respectively. Since the first rails were laid, French companies have secured almost all the contracts in partnership with local firms Orascom and Arab Contractors. Thus, in April 2016, the Vinci-Bouygues consortium walked away with a €1.2 bn contract for phase 3, following the €440M contract obtained for the extension by a grouping of six French companies (Alstom, Thalès, Colas Rail, Vinci, Bouygues and Eurovia) in February 2015.

Three more lines in the pipeline

Line 3 will feature two branches, with a loop on the west side of the city to provide access to Cairo Airport and the university in the south. With a total of 29 stations (of which 23 underground) over 33 kilometres of track passing under the Nile, the line will eventually link the airport to the city centre.

Fifteen new stations and 17.7 km of track are currently under construction.

The European Investment bank (EIB) was already contributing to this extension's financing in 2012, with a loan of €200M (out of €600M paid in three instalments in December 2015 and September 2016) co-financed by the French development agency AFD for a total sum of €940M. In September 2012, France granted a non-refundable subsidy of €300M.
In 2018, phase 4 of line 3 will have eight stations.

The metro is designed to help combat pollution by promoting a mode of public transport that is more environmentally-friendly than the motor car and even the bus. But that combat even includes the pollution it generates. To this end, the EIB has just granted a €75M loan that will go towards modernising the rolling stock and reducing CO2 emissions.

A fourth line is due to be built in 2022, one that will link the Giza Pyramids to Nasr City. Two more are also planned: line 5, circular and completely underground, and line 6, which will run north to south and relieve congestion on line 1.

The Cairo metro is used by three million people every day, with that figure expected to rise to five million by 2020.


Frédéric Dubessy


Tuesday, December 13th 2016



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