News, views and contacts from the global Railway industry

Cairo Metro, Egypt

Key Data

With a population of approximately 17 million, Cairo is one of the most densely populated cities in Africa. It's railway system, operated by Egyptian National Railways (ENR), transports nearly 500 million passengers and 12 million tons of freight each year.

Cairo Metro, the first metro network in Africa, has been operational since 1990. The network consists of two lines, and a further two are planned.

Lines and routes

Line 1 was completed in 1987, and is 42.5km long with 33 stations. It covers the Egyptian capital from north to south.

Line 2, was constructed in two phases, one in 1997 and the other in 2004. It is 21km long and serves 20 stations from the north to the south-west, covering the district of Shubra and the pyramids of Giza.

Line 3 will be 33km long with 29 stations, of which 27 will be underground. The line will connect Cairo Airport in the east to Imbaba and Mohandisseen in the west, crossing the downturn area and Heliopolis. The Mohandisseen area will be connected to the main line going to Imbaba.

Line 4 is expected to operate between Haram District in the east and New Cairo district in the west.

The project

Construction of Line 3 began in 2007 to accommodate the ever-growing population of Cairo. The construction, to be carried out in five phases, is scheduled to be completed by the fourth quarter of 2019. On completion, the capacity of the line is estimated to be 1.8 million passengers per day.

"Construction of Line 3 began in 2007 to accommodate the ever-growing population of Cairo."

The construction of phase I began in July 2007, and was completed in 2011. This is currently a three-month testing and implementation period and will be inaugurated in early 2012.

The contract was awarded to a consortium led by Vinci Construction Grand Projects, a French construction company. Vinci Construction, which holds a 28.5% stake in the consortium, was given the civil engineering package of the contract in January 2007. Other parties in the consortium include Arab Contractors (27.5%), Bouygues (26%) and local company Orascom Construction Industries (18%).

About 60% of phase I had been completed by 2009. About 8.3m of the tunnel's diameter has been completed. A tunnel boring machine (TBM) is being used to carry out the construction work. This TBM, named Cleopatra, is speedier than other machines and reduces pollution caused from sound and debris. The tunnel requires 2,800 rings, for which 22,400 voussoirs will be used. Each voussoir is 1.5m long and weighs 5.7t.

Phase II of Line 3 commenced in June 2009. It comprises different packages for civil, electromechanical and railway works. It is scheduled to be completed in June 2013. The contract for civil engineering works has been awarded to Vinci for ?323m. Orascom Construction has been awarded contracts worth $140m for civil, electromechanical and railway works.

Orascom will also be responsible for the construction work related to the railway tracks in a joint venture with Eurovia Travaux Ferroviaires (ETF), for a contract valued at approximately $24m. This package includes supplying and laying 14km of track and power rail in the tunnel.

Line 4 will be constructed in four phases. The construction is yet to begin and the line will become fully operational by 2020.

Line 3 infrastructure

A major part of the Line 3 will be underground. The cut and cover method is being adopted to build the stations.

Covering the central section, phase I will include the construction of a 4.3km tunnel and five underground stations, and the creation of a repository for rolling stock. The five stations – Attaba, Bab el Shaaria, El Geish, Abdou Pasha and Abbasia – will each be 150m long and will be located at a depth of 14m to 58m. The tunnel will have a diameter of 9.4m.

"A major part of the Line 3 will be underground. The cut and cover method is being adopted to build the stations."

Phase II will extend the underground line eastwards from Abbasiya to Al Ahram (Heliopolis). It will comprise 7km of railway track, including 4km of underground tunnel. The line will connect five stations. Phase II is expected to be completed by October 2013.

Phase III will cover the western section of the underground line. The total length of the line will be 7.5km. It will connect Attaba station with already existing Abdel Nasser Station and a new station at Maspero, finishing at Sphinx Square Station. It is scheduled to commence construction in 2011 and estimated duration of completion is four years.

Phase IV will cover the eastern section of the line between Al Akram and Cairo International Airport. It will be 11km long and is expected to be completed in four years. Construction is scheduled to begin in 2013 and be completed by 2017.

The line will begin at Sphinx Square Station and split into two branches. The first will head towards Imbaba, passing through stations at Kit Kat and Sudan Street. The other branch will head towards Mohandessin and will stop at three stations at Mustafa Mahmoud Station, Shehab Street Station and Lebanon Square Station.

Phase V is the final phase of Line 3, serving seven new stations. Construction is scheduled to begin in 2015.

Rolling stock

The rolling stock for the line will be supplied by Mitsubishi. A third rail will be used to feed the rolling stock by power. Mitsubishi is supplying 460 rail road cars that transport two million passengers every day.

Signalling and communications

The signalling and telecommunications system will be provided by a consortium led by Alstom Equipment. The total value of the signalling and telecommunications contract is ?29.8m.

Other parties in the consortium include the Thales Group and Orascom. For the stations, Alstom will provide URBALIS 200 integrated signalling and train-control information system. It will include a control system, switches and signalling equipment.

The Automatic Train Control and interlocking will be provided by Alstom Units in France, while the locally manufactured products, including the Automatic Train Supervision, will be provided by CASCO. CASCO will also overlook some of the integration work. ALSTOM Transport Service Shanghai will supply local services for the project


Construction of Line 4 is yet to begin, but the line will only become operational only after the completion of the third phase of Line 3 in October 2016. The route will begin at El-Malek El Saleh station on Line 1 and end at October-Oasis Highway station. It will also pass through Giza station on Line 2.

"By 2020, Cairo Metro is expected to carry five million passengers a day."

Construction of Phase II is scheduled to begin in 2014 and end in 2018. It will connect El-Malek-El-Saleh station with 6th District Station in the Nasr City.

Phase III will run between 6th District Station and Makram Ebeid Station. Construction is scheduled to start in 2015 and end in 2018.

Phase IV will be the final stage of construction, linking Makram Ebeid to Mubarak Police Academy station. The construction is expected to begin in 2017 and end in 2020.

The extension of Line 1 to make it more flexible is planned by shifting the northern terminals of Cairo Metro Line 1 from El Marg station to New El Marg station. The plans will be finalised in early 2012.

By 2020, Cairo Metro is expected to carry five million passengers a day. By this time it is expected to add two more lines. Line 5 will be 20km connecting Nasr city to Port Said Street. It will be a half-circular line connecting to the other lines. Line 6 will extend from north south Shubra to Maadi, and will be 19km long.

With the first two lines of the Cairo Metro already completed, Line 3 is now underway to increase capacity.
Operational since the late 1990s, Lines 1 and 2 run from north to south and north to south-west respectively.
Line 3 will be 33km long with 29 stations, with an estimated capacity of 1.8 million passengers per day.
Another three lines are expected to be added to the Cairo Metro by 2020.