19 June 2012

Tunisia: Interim Prime Minister Inaugurates Electrified Rail Line of Tunis Southern Suburbs

Tunis — Interim Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali Tuesday inaugurated the electrified rail line of the Tunis Southern suburbs (Tunis/Borj Cedria), whose cost is estimated at 350 million dinars.

At the VIP lounge of the Tunis railway station, Mr. Jebali was briefed on the components, the different stages and funding of the project carried out over a distance of 23 km. He then boarded the train from Tunis to Hammam-Lif.

It should be recalled that the electrified rail line of the Southern suburbs began operation on April 6, 2012.

Mr. Jebali told TAP "the journey was very comfortable," expressing hope that "services on the train of the Southern suburbs will remain at the same level of quality and even improve."

The Interim Prime Minister got off the train at Hammam-Lif station where many local citizens conveyed to him their grievances and concerns and asked for social assistance to improve their living conditions.

Project manager, Mrs. Samia Ben Jemiaa said the preparation of the project had started ten years ago.

Transport Minister Abdelkarim Harouni announced a programme to purchase new locomotives and wagons, in addition to the 16 trains actually in operation to fight congestion, preserve the quality of services and improve them.

He commended the Tunisian-Japanese co-operation in the Tunis Southern suburbs electrified rail line project, saying it is "a sign of confidence in Tunisia and its skills."

He reminded that the electrified rail line of the Southern suburbs operates an average of 120 train travels a day.

The overall cost of the project reached 350 million dinars, including 250 million dinars as contribution from the Japan International Co-operation Agency.

The electrified trains of the Southern suburbs have air conditioning, are fast and equipped with surveillance cameras and an audio system for passenger information.

Mr. Abderrahman Gamha, CEO of the Tunisian National Railways Company (SNCFT), said, at a news conference held on the sidelines of the inauguration of the project, that the electrification of the Southern suburbs line had allowed a 50% energy saving and 70% saving in maintenance costs, in addition to the gain in time through reduced travel time and decongestion of traffic at the southern entrances of the capital.

Japanese ambassador in Tunis Toshiyuki Taga expressed pride at his country's contribution to the realisation of the project, saying it will ease access to the technological park of Borj Cedria, another model of the Tunisian-Japanese co-operation.

He stated his country's willingness to continue economic and social support for the Revolution of freedom and dignity in Tunisia.

SNCFT project officer Sami Khanfir said studies are underway to expand the electrification of the rail line to cover, in a first step, Grombalia and Gabes before its generalisation to all parts of the country, in addition to the creation of new lines, such as Enfidha, Kairouan, Gabes-Ras Jedir or also the re-operation of old lines such as Sousse-Kasserine.

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