The Ethiopian Railways Corporation (ERC) is constructing a line that will connect the north of the country with the existing Addis Ababa-Djibouti railway.

Lamifil has been chosen to supply all catenary wires for the 392km line. The Awash-Kombolcha-Hara Gebaya Project is of high economic and social importance to Ethiopia.

By connecting the northern and eastern corridors for both passenger and freight traffic, the project will provide a major stimulus for development and trade, as well as import / export activities via the main port in Djibouti.

Moreover, the new railway will play a significant role in connecting the northern region with the central part of the country. Works have been underway since 2015 and are scheduled for completion in 2020. The entire project involves a significant investment of $1.7bn.

Choosing the right standard for railway catenary wires involves striking the right balance between electrical and mechanical features, including conductivity, mechanical strength and thermal resistance. Particularly given the expected volumes of traffic on the line, designed for passenger trains travelling at up to 120km/h and freight trains at up to 80km/h, selecting the right alloys in the right dimensions can be critical.

Lamifil will supply all catenary wires for the Awash-Kombolcha-Hara Gebaya project, which, including the auxiliary station and maintenance lines, totals approximately 450km. CuAg catenary wires were proposed for the contact wire in 120mm² thickness while 70mm² and 16mm² bronze alloy wires will be used for the messenger and dropper wires respectively. The installation is being handled by Yapı Merkezi.

By opting for a copper-silver alloy for the contact wires on the Awash-Kombolcha line, Lamifil closely matches the electrical and mechanical characteristics of ETP copper wire while delivering superior thermal stability. This, in turn, enables significantly higher currents on the DC lines without increased wear.

Similarly, for the dropper and messenger wires, the bronze wires supplied by Lamifil will last up to 20 times longer than conventional copper wire, while ensuring greater tensile strength. The net result is a high return on investment for ERC, while paving the way, quite literally, for the further economic development of Ethiopia’s northernmost regions.