French firm Thales has been selected for a $143m contract to provide signalling equipment for Egypt’s new Cairo-Alexandria rail line.  

The contract will be officially awarded towards the end of April, according to a source at the Egyptian Railways Authority.

The new line being constructed between Cairo and Alexandria is being mainly funded by a loan from the World Bank.

A further line between Bani Suyuf to Assiut is to constructed and a signalling equipment package will be awarded for that section of the line later in the year.

The Egyptian Railway Authority is also in talks with the Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development to secure additional funds for the rail project.

The upgrading of Egypt’s railways is much-needed to improve the country’s poor rail safety record. Towards the end of last year, a crash between a school bus and a train was caused partly by signalling problems and resulted in the death of at least 50 people, mainly children.