The French SNCF and the Moroccan ONCF will create a joint venture for TGV’s maintenance

14/01/2015 (MedAfrica - CH): The Moroccan company ONCF and the French National Railway Company (SNCF) signed on the 6th January in Rabat a contract in the amount of € 175 million over 15 years, providing for the creation a joint venture for maintenance of future TGV in Morocco.The contract was signed by Guillaume Pepy, the president and CEO of SNCF, and Mohamed Rabie Khlie, CEO of ONCF. The joint venture called “Moroccan Company of maintenance of high-speed trains” will be owned 60% by the Moroccan operator and 40% by the French National Railway Company.The services will cover the spare parts, technical support, maintenance engineering services and transportation of spare parts between France and Tangier.The agreement also includes a training of the Moroccan railway company staff to maintenance of high speed trains by SNCF employees. Note that the two operators have been working together since 2009 on the project to build the high-speed train link between Tangiers and Casablanca.

Alstom wins Egypt railway modernisation deal

18/01/2015 (Trade Arabia - Bahrain): Alstom, a global leader in the world of power generation, said it has won a contract worth €100 million ($115 million) from Egyptian National Railways (ENR) to supply signalling equipment for the Beni Suef-Asyut line in Egypt.The contract also includes maintenance of the 240-km-long Beni Suef-Asyut railway line for five years, said a statement from the French company.Delivery will start in 2016 and the system is due to be operational by January 2019, it added.As per the deal, Alstom will provide a smartlock solution - its new electronic interlocking system (EIS) - to replace the existing electromechanical one, as well as a trackside equipment, a power supply and a telecommunication system.Alstom’s solution will ensure safety for passengers while increasing the number of trains in circulation on the network by more than 80 per cent.The project is financed by the World Bank and was launched by Egypt’s Ministry of Transport as part of an initiative to modernise signalling systems all over the ENR network, enhance operation and increase the level of safety to match international standards.

Kuwait wins municipal nod for GCC rail work

24/01/2015 (Trade Arabia - Bahrain): In a significant development, the Kuwait government has won approval from its municipal council for the construction of the railway line linking the ambitious Gulf network, said a report.The joint project is to develop a railway network linking link Iraq with Kuwait in the north and Oman in the south to the UAE, Qatar, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.Following the approval, the Ministry of Communications can now begin to co-ordinate its plans with other government ministries and agencies to finalise an alignment for the route, according to the Kuwait News Agency.The ministry is currently prequalifying consultants for design work on the project and construction is expected to begin next year.The construction of the rail network linking the six GCC states is estimated to cost $15.5 billion, it added.

Egyptian President promotes investment on first official UAE visit

18/01/2015 (The National - UAE): BU DHABI // Egypt is open for business, President Abdel Fattah El Sisi told potential investors on Monday on his first official visit to the UAE.“We welcome you in Egypt and will provide appropriate investment atmosphere. There are genuine investment opportunities in Egypt,” Mr El Sisi told an audience of businessmen in Abu Dhabi.The Cairo government alone could not meet Egypt’s economic ambitions, he said. “Hence comes the role of Egyptian, Arab and foreign investors to upgrade the Egyptian economy.”Mr El Sisi particularly urged Egyptian businessmen in the UAE to invest in their home country. “The government of Egypt will remove all obstacles facing the investors by easing licensing procedures and other measures. You are invited to invest in Egypt along with Emirati and Arab investors.”Mr El Sisi said previous barriers to foreign investment, such as corruption in issuing investment licences, had been removed, and Egypt would also implement a unified investment law before hosting a major economic conference in March.

Railway investments ‘must for Turkey, Iran’

05/01/2015 (Hurriyet - Turkey): Turkey and Iran should invest in railways to meet trade targets, head of the Association of International Forwarding and Logistics Services Providers (UTİKAD) Turgut Erkeskin has said in reference to a new trade agreement between the two countries.The latest preferential trade agreement between Turkey and Iran are useful for business circles from both countries, but needs to be supported with railway investments to be able to reach trade targets, as Turkey and Iran have recently had problems in land transportation, said Erkeskin.  “Turkey and Iran should develop a block railway transportation line so as to reach their shared economic targets,” said Erkeskin. The recent truck crisis between Turkey and Iran has mostly been resolved by a temporary suspension on sealing Turkish trucks’ gas tanks at the Iranian border, and Turkey now expects a permanent resolution, said Customs Minister Nurettin Canikli Dec. 13, 2014. “It now appears that the truck problem with Iran has been resolved to a large extent. Our expectation is to see a permanent resolution to this problem,” he said.

Azerbaijan-Turkey relationship passed the 2015 exam

24/01/2015 (Hurriyet - Turkey): On Jan. 15, the president of Azerbaijan, İlham Aliyev, visited Turkey upon the invitation of the president of Turkey, Receb Tayyip Erdoğan. This visit to Turkey was the first overseas trip for Aliyev in 2015. It was important from two points. First, Aliyev attended the fourth session of the High Level Strategic Cooperation Council’s meeting. The council was established in 2010. Turkey and Azerbaijan signed three agreements: in the area of financial crimes, custom issues and “The Joint Declaration on results of the fourth session of the Turkish-Azerbaijani High-Level Strategic Cooperation Council.”Second, the timing of the visit is important as developments regarding the 100th anniversary of the 1915 events have an impact on both states. According to some experts, the pressures on Turkey will rise in 2015 to open Turkish-Armenian borders. This would contradict Azerbaijan’s Nagorno-Karabakh policy. Actually, certain forces outside Turkey, which are being funded by the EU and the U.S. government, are continuing to pressure the Turkish government to open the Turkish-Armenian border.

Moscow to Beijing in 2 days: China to build $242bn high-speed railway

23/01/2015 (RT - Russia): China is going to build a $242 billion (1.5 trillion yuan) high-speed rail link between Beijing and Moscow. The line will cut the journey time from five to 'two days', say Chinese authorities.The railway will be 7,000 kilometers long and go through Kazakhstan, reports Bloomberg citing Beijing’s city government on the social networking site Weibo, China’s alternative to Twitter. The railway will make travel easier between Europe and Asia, the statement said.China is actively promoting its high-speed railway technology and sees Russia as an especially attractive market because of its strained relations with Western countries over Ukraine.

Railways needs private capital, not privatisation 

19/01/2015 (The Hindu - India): Minister for Railways Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu on Monday said while the railways badly needed private capital, there was no way it could mean privatisation of any kind whatsoever.“The Indian Railways will continue to be owned by Government of India only. It will not go into the hands of multi-nationals. There are no second thoughts about it. We need to decongest our network by doubling, tripling or even quadrupling lines wherever we can. In urban areas it could only mean we go above the road. As two-thirds of our revenue comes from freight, we are going for dedicated freight corridors,” he said.He was addressing a gathering of Railway officials and representatives from the private sector including infrastructure, services sector and technology companies, at the 15 National Seminar on 'PPP and FDI in Indian Railways’. It was organised by the Centre for Transportation Research and Management (CTRAM) and hosted by the South Central Railways at the Indian Railway Institute of Signal Engineering and Telecommunication (IRISET) here.

Kenya: How the Sh327 Billion Standard Gauge Railway Is Taking Shape

09/01/2015 (All Africa - SA): Construction of the much-hyped standard gauge railway has began in earnest, in a journey that will snake through an estimated 3,230 kilometres in across Kenya.The routes include Mombasa-Nairobi (485km), Nairobi-Malaba (520km) and a Kisumu branch line of 174km. Two new corridors will be built - Lamu to Nadapal (1,350km) on the border with South Sudan, and 700km from Nairobi to Moyale on the Ethiopia border.It is envisioned that neighbouring countries - Uganda, Rwanda and South Sudan - will extend the railway to their capitals. During construction, the first phase from Mombasa to Nairobi is expected to create about 60,000 jobs directly and up to 200,000 indirectly over the 42 months since last October.Project costs have been pegged at $4 billion (Sh364.40 billion), of which 85 per cent or $3.60 billion is to be loaned by the China Exim Bank. The government will finance the rest through budgetary allocations and the railway development levy introduced in the 2013/14 fiscal year, which charges 1.5 per cent on imports.

Zambia's North West Rail receives a loan of US$500mn

13/01/2015 (Africa Review - UK): The railway line is 580 km long, and will link Angola and Zambia. The US$1bn line would connect Zambia’s copper mines and facilitate the transport of mineral goods between the Northwest and Copperbelt regions of Zambia. In addition, the railway line would also generate 1,000 jobs, stated project officials.Daniel Rea, manager of Grindrod Limited Zambia, said, “This is a permanent investment for Zambia. It will boost the country’s economy permanently. The Zambia North West Rail will also relieve pressure from the roads because huge cargo will now be transported by rail.”So far, most of Zambia’s copper is being moved by trucks to ports at Tanzania and South Africa, however, movement of copper by rail would be economical and energy-efficient as well, added project officials.