Beijing — The first overseas electric railway built to Chinese standards started having its tracks laid on Thursday in Dire Dawa, an eastern city of Ethiopia, China's railway authorities said.
The railway, which will stretch 740 kilometers linking Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa with Djibouti's capital Djibouti, is expected to be completed by the end of 2015, with a total investment of 4 billion U.S. dollars.
An inland country, Ethiopia depends on imports and exports on the port of Djibouti. It takes around one week for cargo to be transported between Djibouti and Addis Ababa by road.
"The railway, once in operation, will reduce the traveling time to seven or eight hours," said the Ethiopia Railway Corporation, adding that the railway will also cut transportation costs.
The train will run at a speed of 120 kilometers per hour, the fastest ever in Ethiopian railway history.
"The track-laying marks an important construction stage of the Ethiopia-Djibouti railway," said Yuan Li, general manager of China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation, one of the two major constructors.
Yuan said the railway will follow Chinese standards as tracks, trains and signal systems are all made-in-China. The whole process ranging from design, construction to supervision will be run by Chinese companies.
The construction is the second transnational railway to be built by Chinese enterprises after the landmark Tanzania-Zambia construction in the 1970s.