The World Bank has approved a $440m loan to support Egypt’s initiatives to upgrade the safety and service quality of its railways.

The total cost of the Railway Improvement and Safety for Egypt (RISE) project stands at $681.1m, $241.1m of which will be contributed by the Egyptian National Railways (ENR).

The project aims to modernise the signalling for the Cairo-Giza-Beni Suef section and enhance ENR’s performance and competitiveness.

Egyptian Minister of International Cooperation Dr Rania A Al-Mashat said: “Today, more than ever, there is a great need to develop sustainable infrastructure. Redefining smarter transportation solutions improves safety, enhances mobility, safeguards the environment and strengthens job creation and economic growth.

“This project supports the momentum for reform and the demand for urban mobility and reliable public transport, integral to achieving the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.”

The newly approved RISE project is a follow-up of the Egypt National Railways Restructuring Project (ENRRP).

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By GlobalData

Concluded last year, ENRRP was focused on enhancing the signalling system of the Alexandria-Cairo and Beni Suef-Nag Hammadi sections.

World Bank Egypt, Yemen and Djibouti country director Marina Wes said: “This operation builds on the World Bank’s policy dialogue with Egypt in the transport sector, including on institutional and governance arrangements, and safety and regulatory aspects. We are keen and committed to continue to support this vital sector which provides critical services especially to low-income citizens, helping to increase access to employment opportunities and markets.”

Egyptian Minister of Transportation Lieutenant General Kamel El Wazir said: “Modernising and reforming Egypt’s railways is critical to meeting citizens’ travel needs and boosting the overall economy. Improving the service for millions of passengers per day is a priority, particularly because citizens depend on the ENR to access jobs and do other tasks, including fulfilling personal errands. Increasing freight transport is also a critical objective, which will increase the economy’s overall competitiveness. Through partnering with the World Bank on this project, we aim to enhance the performance of this important sector.”

The RISE project will include track upgrade works and modernisation of the signalling system on the Cairo-Beni Suef segment, as well as pick up ENRRP’s works along the Alexandria-Cairo and Beni Suef-Nag Hammadi segments, covering a total length of 763km.

An upgraded Safety Management System will also be introduced to improve the safety of ENR’s passengers and workers.

With enhanced service quality and punctuality, around 90% of the trains will operate on time as opposed to 75%.

The project will also help Egypt to align ENR with international best practices by launching performance-based funding.

ENR network comprises more than 5,000km of rail tracks. In FY2019, the network handled around 270 million passengers.