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Egypt signs deal to build a $23bn high-speed rail system

National Authority for Tunnels signs agreement with Orascom, Siemens Mobility and Arab Contractors for a 1,000 km railway network

Egypt signed an agreement with Siemens Mobility, Orascom Construction and Arab Contractors to build the country's first multi-billion dollar high-speed rail network.

Under the agreement with the National Authority for Tunnels (NAT), the consortium will design, install and commission a 1,000-kilometre railway system, Orascom Construction said in a statement on Sunday.

The initial high-speed line will stretch across 460km and has an order value of around $3 billion.

The mega-project is scheduled to be completed within two years at an overall cost of 360bn Egyptian pounds ($23bn), Egypt's President Abdel Fattah El Sisi said in a press conference, according to the presidency spokesman's Facebook page.

The new project will provide a boost to the Arab world's most populous country as it seeks to improve its transportation network.

"This project will connect distant parts of Egypt in a sustainable manner while contributing to the infrastructure and economic development of the country," Osama Bishai, chief executive of Orascom Construction, said.

The initial high-speed line, which will also operate freight transport, will connect Ain Sokhna on the Red Sea to Al Alamein on the Mediterranean Sea while passing through the New Administrative Capital east of Cairo.

Siemens Mobility will provide high-speed and regional trains, locomotives, rail infrastructure, system integration and other services on the project, it said in a separate statement.

"By building a high efficiency rail system for the country, we will support the Egyptian people with affordable, clean and reliable transportation," Joe Kaeser, president and chief executive of Siemens, said.

The rail system will provide a technology boost for the country and create local jobs, Michael Peter, chief executive of Siemens Mobility, said.

"The system will significantly enhance passenger experience and reduce travel time for millions of Egyptian people,” Mr Peter said.

The landmark project builds on Orascom Construction’s portfolio of transportation projects including monorail, light rail, railway and metro.

The Cairo-based company is an engineering and construction contractor mainly focused on infrastructure, industrial and high-end commercial projects in the Middle East, Africa and the US.

Orascom Construction and Siemens' work on the mega-project adds to their previous partnerships on power projects in Egypt.

"Following our joint success with Siemens on Egypt’s mega power projects, we are pleased to partner once again with our long-term repeat partner," Mr Bishai said.

The agreement was signed by chairman of NAT Essam Waly and Mr Peter at a meeting on January 14 in Cairo.

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