National standard for railway in the making


The Ethiopian Railway Corporation (ERC) is in the process of setting up a new national railway standard that will aid in the evaluation of projects that are in the works and those that will be carried out in the future.

The formation of a national railway standard is already under development by the Russian-based institution, St. Petersburg State University of Transport.
According to the information obtained from the ERC public relations office, the formation of the standard will state what needs to be achieved to deliver compatibility between rail vehicles, the infrastructure and operating procedures among other things.
The development of the standard is expected to be completed before the end of the current fiscal year (July 7, 2013).
“The national standard will be a baseline for all national railway projects that are already in the works and for railway projects that will commence in the future,” Abebe Mihretu, public relation head of ERC, told Capital.
Currently, ERC has three national railway projects spanning across the country including Sebeta-Mei’so-Dewele, Awash-Woldiya-Mekele and Mojo-Weyto projects, which it has awarded to contractors from China and Turkey, while two companies from Russia and Brazil  have already signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to undertake two other projects in the North and Southwest of the country, respectively.
The national railway standard will play a significant role in harmonizing every project related to the railway network. Early this week, the corporation and contractors engaged in the Light Railway Transport (LRT) and national projects, held a workshop which focused on the national standard. According to experts, the one-day workshop followed by a project site visit will contribute to the setting up of the national standard.
“This kind of national standard is not usual in other construction projects. The setting up of this one is a good opportunity for other institutions to form a similar guideline,” experts added.
In the five-year Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP) the government has set a target to conclude or complete the construction of at least a 2,000km railway network, while ERC is also constructing the 34km LRT in Addis Ababa. 
Currently, four contractors (three Chinese and one Turkish) are involved in the three national projects. The two Chinese contractors, China Railway Engineering Corporation (CREC) and China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC) are currently constructing the Sebeta-Mei’so -Dewele railway line. For the 657km projects, the Chinese Export Import (EXIM) Bank has provided the majority of the USD 2.3 billion needed. While the other Chinese company China Communication Construction Company (CCCC) is constructing the 268.2km Awash-Woldiya railway that cost about USD 1.6 billion in vendor financing.
Yapi Merkezi Construction Industry Inc, a Turkish company, is also constructing the 389km Woldiya-Mekele railway line, which is projected to cost about USD 1.7 billion which is financed by the Turkish EXIM Bank.
CREC is also constructing the 34km Addis Ababa LRT, which is also financed by the Chinese government.