French engineering and consulting group Systra has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Algerian national rail operator SNTF to collaborate on systems engineering for the country’s expanding railway network.
The deal will establish a new joint venture (JV) to undertake studies, monitor and control rail system projects in the country.
Systra will own 49% of the new JV, while SNTF will own the remaining 51%.
Systra executive board chairman Pierre Verzat said: "Yacine Bendjaballah, CEO of SNTF, and myself share the same commitment to this project, which should very quickly lead to the emergence of a leading Algerian player in the field of rail systems engineering.
"The new company, whose fields of expertise will cover signalling, telecommunications, electrical traction and operational engineering, will further accelerate achievement of the ambitious targets for the Algerian rail network, including among other projects the deployment by 2020 of a latest-generation rail network and equipment."
The new JV will develop local engineering skills with an emphasis on systems technology, which is essential for developing Algeria’s rail network and its expansion from 4,000km to 12,000km over the next decade.
According to Systra, the JV will work closely with SNTF to meet these demands by drawing on local resources and developing Algeria’s experience in rail electrification and signalling.
As part of this agreement, roughly 30 Algerian engineers will be recruited and trained.
The JV will also focus on better control of engineering expenses, which will be managed locally with the creation of 50 jobs.
Verzat said: "This MoU forms part of the engineering plank of the broader agreement signed by SNCF and SNTF on 10 September, which set the framework for cooperation between the two groups."
In July, Alstom Transport has secured a €200m contract from SNTF to deliver 17 Coradia Polyvalent electro-diesel intercity trains.
Deliveries of the dual-mode trains, which are capable of travelling at 160km/h, are scheduled to start in January 2018.
The new trains will be deployed on intercity services linking Alger with destinations, including Oran, Annaba, Constantine and Béchar.
Image: Pierre Verzat and Yacine Bendjaballah are signing the agreement in the presence of French foreign and international development minister Laurent Fabius. Photo: courtesy of Systra.