Škoda Group (Škoda) has signed two contracts with Egyptian National Railways (ENR) to modernise and maintain at least 280 electro-diesel locomotives.

The project marks Škoda’s first expansion into Africa.

The first agreement is for the overhaul of locomotives over a period of nine years, and the second is for full-service maintenance for up to 15 years. The combined value of the contracts is over €1bn, according to the Czech company.

Most of the work will be carried out in Egypt, which will support the localisation and include work in all production positions.

“These contracts mark a historic milestone for Škoda Group. With our strong record of accomplishment in servicing and modernisation, we are uniquely positioned to deliver superior locomotive rehabilitation and overhaul services,” said Didier Pfleger, CEO of Škoda Group.

“Our aim is to use our skills and experience to build lasting relationships and make a long-term contribution to improving the quality of the rail sector in the Middle East and Africa.”

To start the project, two prototype locomotives will be modernised at the Škoda production and service site in Šumperk, Czech Republic. The remaining locomotives will then be modernised, overhauled and maintained in Egypt.

To ensure successful execution, Škoda says it will provide training at its sites specifically for the prototypes. The Egyptian staff will acquire the necessary expertise in Egypt and in the Czech Republic to carry out work on the locomotives to European industrial standards.

“We are excited to bring enhanced reliability, availability, and safety to the Egyptian national railways and passengers. Over the next nine years, we will deliver at least 280 rehabilitated and overhauled locomotives to Egypt with an extended service life of another 15-20 years,” said Marek Herbst, senior service VP at Škoda Group.

“We will perform up to 15 years of full-service for these locomotives. We are convinced that full-service is the most efficient way for our customers to receive quality care and maintenance for their entire fleet of vehicles,” said Herbst added.

ENR’s locomotives will undergo a major review and renewal of their components. The locomotives’ drives and pneumatic parts will be overhauled, and their braking systems and electrical wiring comprehensively modernised.

The driver’s cabs will also be transformed, with new control panels being installed. The Train Control and Management System (TCMS) will also be checked and modified.