- Budget for the project is estimated at $1.4bn to be spread over 15 years
- Rail top speed is at 40 kph
The first section of Tunisias new rail network is on track to start operations in 2018, with the tender for the acquisition of rolling stocks due before end 2015.
The project, designed by Frances Systra and modelled after Paris express RER train, will cover a radius of 15 kilometres around the capital Tunis and extend 85 kilometres outside of Tunis to link several suburban regions to the capital. The rail will run at a maximum speed of 40 kilometres per hour (kph).
Initial budget approved for the project was for $554m, although more recent figures arising out of local press indicate that the total project budget is now estimated at TD 3bn ($1.4bn) to be spread over a 15-year period.
Approved in 2009, the project has undergone major delays due to the political unrest triggered by the Arab spring, which began in 2011. Similar to other Arab states, Tunisias new rail scheme is designed to address the growing congestion in key cities and to enhance commerce, trade flow and the overall living standard among residents in remote areas of the country.
The project is being implemented and will be operated by the Societe Nationale des Chemins de Fer Tunisiens (SNCFT) and Reseau Ferroviare Rapide (RFR).
Project scope includes construction of railway lines, platforms, train stations, parking areas and depot workshops as well as the acquisition of rolling stocks. Local press quoted RFR chief executive Moez Lidinallah Mokadem stating that the tender for the acquisition of the rolling stocks is ongoing and will be awarded by the SNCFT before end of 2015.
The initial segment of the rail scheme includes two lines. The first line will connect Tunis with Sidi, Hassine and Sijoumi, while the second line will connect Tunis to Mnihla.