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Egypt says plans railway lines extending to Libya, Sudan

[CAIRO] Egypt's transport minister Sunday announced proposals to construct a railway line to reach the Sudanese city of Wadi Halfa, and to extend a line in the north to Libya's Benghazi.

The announcement came as part of Egyptian government efforts to overhaul the country's transport system, including an ailing railway network with a poor safety record.

The government decided on "a number rail transport projects that could be carried out in cooperation with investors," Transport Minister Kamel al-Wazir told a news conference in Cairo.

They include "building an Aswan-Toshka railway line that will extend to the city of Wadi Halfa in Sudan," he said, referring to locations in Egypt's south and a city just across the border.

He also said there were plans to extend the Marsa Matrouh-Salloum line, in Egypt's northwest, to reach the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi.

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Neighbouring Libya has been mired in chaos since a 2011 uprising that toppled and killed longtime dictator Moamer Kadhafi.

The country is currently split between rival administrations in the east and west, with Cairo backing eastern strongman Khalifa Haftar.

Under President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, Egypt has been looking to build cross-border railway lines with neighbouring countries.

Its rail network has been beset by a spate of accidents in recent years that were often blamed on decades of poor maintenance, negligence and a lack of funds.

In March, over a dozen people were injured when two passenger trains collided in the capital Cairo, triggering a brief suspension in nationwide rail services.

Mr Sisi tapped Mr Wazir for the post of transport minister after a train crash at Cairo's central station in February last year killed 22 people.


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