Egypt inaugurated its first electrified light rail (LRT) system on Sunday at the Adly Mansour Central Station, considered the largest interchange station in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA).

The rail system was built and part-financed by Chinese companies in a contract worth $1.24 billion signed in August 2017 between Egypt’s National Authority for Tunnels and the consortium of China Railway Engineering Corporation and AVIC International, another Chinese state-owned firm.

The opening ceremony was attended by President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi and China’s Ambassador to Cairo, Liao Liqiang.

The LRT project will connect the New Administrative Capital (NAC), currently under construction in the east, to the present capital Cairo. The new Al-Salam and 10th of Ramadan lines were also launched.

Ambassador Liao was quoted as saying: “The 10th of Ramadan LRT was a remarkable cooperation programme between China and Egypt under the Belt and Road Initiative, generating important meaning for our bilateral relationship.”

During the event, Minister of Transportation Kamel El-Wazir explained that the first phase of the project will include 22 trains, serving 360,000 passengers daily, with a maximum capacity of about one million passengers per day. Around 20 Egyptian and 15 Chinese firms took part in the project, the minister added.

In May President Al-Sisi attended the signing ceremony of a contract with German company Siemens to establish an integrated system for high-speed electric trains in the country, covering a length of about 2000 kilometres nationwide.

In a separate statement on Sunday, Egypt’s Ministry of International Cooperation announced it had received around $2.4 billion from international development partners over the past two years to support the development of the country’s transport sector.

According to Al-Ahram, Egypt’s first monorail is set to operate by 2023, with two lines extending for almost 100 kilometres, making it the longest monorail network in the world. The monorail will be the country’s most advanced means of mass transportation and is one of the various green methods of transport Egypt is implementing, in addition to the LRT, high-speed electric train and the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system.