The German industrial group Siemens said on Saturday evening it had agreed on a deal to construct 2,000 kilometers (1,243 miles) of high-speed rail lines across Egypt.
The deal, which is worth €8.1 billion ($8.7 billion), is the biggest order in the Munich-based company’s 175-year history.
The contract includes, besides the rail lines, 41 high-speed trains; 94 regional trains, 41 freight trains, and eight depots and freight stations.
It also stipulates that Siemens will be responsible for maintenance for 15 years.
The mega-project aims to connect 60 cities by train, at speeds of up to 230 kilometers per hour, providing rail access to around 90% of the population, according to Siemens.
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Egyptian President Abdel Fatah el-Sisi called the planned network “the beginning of a new era for the rail system in Egypt, Africa and the Middle East;” during the contract signing ceremony.
World’s sixth largest rail network
“With our latest technology for rolling stock, signaling and maintenance, Egypt will have the sixth-largest and most modern high-speed rail network in the world;” Siemens CEO Roland Busch said at the ceremony.
The project will be carried out under the Siemens mobility branch of the group in cooperation with two partner companies.
The cost of the deal includes the €2.7 billion that was agreed last year for the first stretch of track; the so-called “Suez Canal on rails,” that will run 660 kilometers from the Red Sea port city of Ain Sochhna to Marsa Matruh and Alexandria on the Mediterranean coast.
Company promises 40,000 jobs
The second stretch of track, a total of 1,100 kilometers, will connect the capital Cairo with the southern city of Abu Simbel; close to the border with Sudan, and pass through settlements along the Nile.
The third will run from the central city of Luxor to the coastal city of Hurghada, covering some 225 kilometers; aiding in the transport of goods from the Mediterranean to the key port of Safaga.
Siemens said that the project will create some 40,000 jobs in Egypt; as well as an extra 6,700 jobs in connected industries.
The company also claimed that the fully electrified network would lower CO2 output by around 70% in comparison to journeys made by bus or car.