For commuters to travel between the coastal towns of Al-Alamein in the north of Egypt and Al-Ain Al-Sokhna in the southeast without a car, they have to take multiple forms of transport, making several stops along the way. But the Egyptian government’s plans for a high-speed railway to connect Al-Ain Al-Sokhna on Red Sea to the City of Al-Alamein on the Mediterranean promises to change inter-city transport on the country’s coasts.

Transport Minister Hisham Arafat said on March 12 at a conference in Dubai that the Egyptian government plans to award the tender for a high-speed railway between the Red Sea and the Mediterranean in the second half of 2018. “We are working currently on the technical evaluation and the financial evaluation of this project,” Arafat said. The contract is expected to be awarded by July, with construction to start this year. There are more than 10 international companies  involved in the tender process, but the minister declined to reveal any names.

Earlier in 2017, it was revealed that there were talks with China’s AVIC international and China Railway Group Limited to construct the high-speed railway line. Both companies reviewed with the government the proposed route, which is comprised of five main stations: Al-Ain Al-Sokhna, the administrative capital, Sixth of October, Alexandria, and Al-Alamein. Their proposal also involved six substations.

The High-Speed Railway will connect Ain El-Sokhna, Red Sea to Al-Alamein, Mediterranean Sea.

Al-Ain Al-Sokhna on the Red Sea coast. CC: rick manwaring

Al-Ain Al-Sokhna (which means “hot spring” in Arabic), is a town that runs primarily on tourism, as well as industry, which is clustered in a district called Al-Ataqah that shelters a population of 27,340. The resort side of the town is considered an all-season vacation getaway from the busy capital Cairo, which is located just 131 km (81.5 miles) away.

Al-Alamein commuters are going to use the high-speed railway to travel to Al-Ain Al-Sokhna

Al-Alamein Commonwealth Cemetery. CC: Einsamer Schütze

Al-Alamein on the other hand is home to a population of 7,397 and is primarily known as a World War II battlefield in 1942. The town is actually named after the World War, as Al-Alamein literally means “the two worlds” in Arabic. It is therefore home to Italian and German cemeteries, as well as a museum showcasing uniforms, tanks, and weapons used in the war. Al-Alamein neighbors the highly popular coastal resort villages along the North Coast which are highly seasonal, unlike Al-Ain Al-Sokhna.

This is not the first time the Egyptian government has announced a transport mega project connecting cities. In December 2017, the Ministry of Housing revealed that a monorail comprised of 22 stations would connect the eastern Cairo district of Nasr City with the new administrative capital to the southeast. “This choice [to build the monorail] comes as the most comfortable means of transport and is an answer to the request of passengers,” said Minister of Housing Mostafa Madbouly. “The project will be executed in accordance with the construction designs and funding will be acquired through international monetary organizations as well as government loans,” he added.

In the same announcement, the government also publicized plans for another monorail connecting the satellite City of 6th of October in the west to suburban Giza. Predicted to carry a quarter of a million passengers each way per day, the 6th of October monorail will have 10 stops and will extend into the satellite city’s industrial zone. The project is set to be completed in two years.