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High-Speed Trains in Egypt?

A plan to build and run a high-speed train connecting Egypt's main cities turns to the Egyptian people for funding as an initial public offering is expected this August.

Egypt still has a long way to go on the road to recovery. However, every now and then, news is released that signals progressive change. That being said, transportation minister Mostafa al-Demeiry recently stated that shares for a high-speed trains project will be made available to the public on the stock market by August.

Ahead of the offering, the minister announced that they are in the process of conducting feasibility studies, and that initial public offering will be put forth with the help of international consultants.

"They will not be owned by the country, but by shareholders," he said. "One of the projects is estimated to cost LE80 billion and will link Cairo, Alexandria, Aswan and Luxor." al-Demeiry told the official news agency MENA. As it stands, the state doesn't have the budget to take on major national projects which is why they are turning to the private sector.

"The best solution is to offer the project to initial public offering to allow the participation of all Egyptians, in addition to investment funds and banks," he added. "These projects will yield huge revenues in light of the increasing demand on transportation means and the growing population, which is expected to reach 150 million by 2050."

Egypt has a myriad of problems, and unfortunately with a struggling economy, cannot afford to pay for the changes to maintain roads let alone build high-speed trains. al-Demeiry estimates that the transportation sector has lost around LE20 billion, and that the road networks in Egypt require LE5 billion for maintenance, while the state budget is only able to provide a fifth of the required amount.

This isn't the first time Egypt has talked about building a high-speed railway. In 2009, the Egyptian government entrusted an Italian firm with preparing the technical study for the high-speed railway. The study defined the route that the line would take, and the number of potential passengers as well as the cost of the project, however the project was shelved due to the 2011 uprising.

In the end, this plan is encouraging sign that Egypt trying to get back on track, and is creatively rethinking it's strategy of rebuilding the country and hopes to complete Egypt's transportation transformation by 2050.