Sudan plans $640m scheme to bring rail network back into use

Sudan is planning a $640m programme to rehabilitate its 4,725km rail system, half of which has fallen out of use.

The Bloomberg news agency reports that the African Development Bank (AfDB) has offered a $75m grant towards the cost, and China State Construction Engineering and several Gulf firms are reported to be interested in becoming involved with the project.

The first phase of the project will be to carry out $17m of emergency repairs to lines that are in use.  The second will be to renew abandoned lines, most of which are in the south of the country.

This phase will connect the cities of Madani, Kosti and Sennar, as well as Nyala in Darfur state. It will also establish a cross-border connection to Wau in the Republic of South Sudan.

Sudan’s rail network (Jkan997/CC BY-SA 3.0)

The AfDB last year funded a $1.2m feasibility study into constructing a railway between Addis Ababa, Khartoum and Port Sudan (see further reading). That is due to conclude next year, after which a decision will be made on whether to go ahead with the scheme.

Jibreel Ibrahim, Sudan’s finance minister, said the UAE had expressed interest in funding that line.

Waleed Mahmoud Ahmed, the general manager of the Sudan Railways Corporation, told Bloomberg that China State Construction may be interested in building a line from Port Sudan on the Red Sea state, to Darfur and from there to Chad.

This idea for a trans-Saharan railway was discussed in 2017, and China Railway Design Corporation (CRDC) and China Friendship Development International Engineering Design & Consultation Company undertook a feasibility study.

Top image: Sudan operates a narrow-gauge system. This is the track at the ancient city of Meroë (Clemens Schmillen/CC BY-SA 4.0) 

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