Tunis is keen to develop its railway network linking the capital’s city centre to the surrounding suburbs as a way of reducing Tunisia’s reliance on subsidised fuel.

Speaking at MEED’s Rail & Metro Summit on 30 October, Abderrahmene Gamha, president and chief executive officer (CEO), at Tunisia’s national rail authority [Societe Nationale des Chemins de Fer Tunisiens] said there is a need to build more suburban mass-transit lines to encourage commuters to travel by public transport.  

Currently 75 per cent of Tunis’ population commutes by car, which places pressure on fuel consumption, which is subsidised by the country. “It is a big issue for the government,” he said.

To date, construction contracts for two of the five planned lines forming the suburban network have been awarded.

In February, a consortium led by French company Colas Rail, including German firm Siemens and Tunisian company Somatra-Get, won the contract to build lines D and E, covering a total distance of 20 kilometres.

Line D will connect Tunis to Mannouba and Gobaa to Mnihla. Line E will connect Tunis to Ezzouhour and Zahrouni.

Gamha also outlined plans to develop a 800km high-speed railway connecting Tunisia to its neighbours Libya and Algeria. He said the first phase would involve extending Tunisia’s existing railway to connect with the Libyan border.

He said a feasibility study into this project would be launched soon.