The EBRD is investing in the upgrade and renovation of two key routes in Tunisia’s railway infrastructure to enhance the network’s capacity and performance, providing a safer and more reliable service to thousands of passengers.
A €160 million loan from the Bank will help Société Nationale des Chemins de Fer Tunisiens (SNCFT) to create additional capacity on the railway network to address overcrowding on trains and to improve service reliability and quality.
This financing will contribute to the upgrade and realignment of the existing Tunis-Kasserine railway line, improving the connection between the two cities and enabling the flow of goods, services and people utilising the rail network, contributing to better integration between the North West and Centre West governorates and the capital city Tunis.
In line with the EBRD’s green economy policy, there are also a number of measures planned to address the growing number of passengers in the increasingly urbanised areas served by the central coastal railway line of Tunisia which will also have energy saving benefits. The Suburban Southern coastal (Sahel) rail line between the towns of Moknine and Mahdia will be doubled and electrified, and the purchase of six modern electric trains will contribute to energy savings and reduction of carbon emissions by 14,000 tonnes each year. As an added benefit, it is estimated that an improved railway service will help decreasing vehicle traffic on the highway network by 10 million vehicles per kilometre per year by 2021.
In addition, a corporate development programme will be introduced to support SNCFT in its railway restructuring efforts and in implementing measures to improve its financial sustainability and operational efficiency.
A technical cooperation package will support procurement arrangements, a corporate development programme, preparation of a network development strategy and support required environmental and social measures.
Sue Barrett, EBRD Director for Transport, said: “We are delighted to support this important railway project demonstrating the EBRD’s firm commitment to the country’s development plan 2016-20, which places the modernisation of transport infrastructure, in particular railways, as a key driver of economic development and regional inclusion.”
Ziad Laadhari, Minister of Development, Investment and International Cooperation, said: “This project forms an integral part of the overall development strategy for the railway sector, particularly in the region of Kasserine, and is fully aligned with the country’s strategic orientation towards the development of infrastructure in inland regions. This will help achieve regional integration, strengthen the economy and improve the quality of life for the inhabitants of these regions.”
He added: “I am also glad to witness the development of cooperation between the Tunisian government and the EBRD, which is contributing to economic and social progress in Tunisia.”
Since the EBRD began operations in Tunisia in September 2012, the Bank has invested over €390 million in over 27 projects in the country. Its investments aim to support the restructuring and strengthening of the financial sector and financing private enterprises, supporting energy efficiency and developing a sustainable energy sector as well as facilitating non-sovereign financing for infrastructure development. The EBRD’s Transition Report 2017-18 predicts the Tunisian economy will grow by 2.2 per cent in 2017 and 2.8 per cent in 2018.
SNCFT is the national railway company created in 1969 to manage and operate the railway network in Tunisia reporting to the Ministry of Transport (MoT). SNCFT is an integrated railway entity carrying passengers and freight. It operates a network spanning 2,165 kilometres, with 267 stations and four railroad connections across the country.