CAIRO - Egypt is rushing ahead with plans for an expansion of its metro and railway networks and is near agreement with Bechtel Corp to implement Cairo's sixth metro line, Transport Minister Kamel al-Wazir said on Monday.
Speaking to the American Chamber of Commerce, Wazir said most of the bigger transport projects, which also include dry ports and river transport, should be finished by the end of 2024.
Egypt was working on a memorandum of understanding with Bechtel for feasibility studies and implementation of the $5 billion, 30 km sixth metro line, he said.
"Just yesterday we had the contracts and we quickly reached near-agreement," Wazir said.
"We told them to submit a written offer. If we reach agreement we will begin working at once and expedite all the contracts and agreements."
Egypt had lined up finance for the metro line from Canada, America, Britain, France and Japan, Waziri said. He did not give its route, but reports have said it will run east of the Nile from north to south.
Last week, Egypt's Orascom Construction said it and Japan's Mitsubishi Corporation had signed an $800 million contract with Egypt's National Authority for Tunnels for work on the 19 km first phase of Cairo's fourth metro line, with financing from Japan.
That line will extend underground from central Cairo to the Pyramids to the west, connecting 16 stations.
Among planned new railways around Cairo are a 49 km, $175 million line from Sixth of October City to the Nile north of Cairo, a 69 km, $235 million cargo line from Bilbeis to eastern Cairo and a $435 million, 227 km dual line to Atay al-Baroud on the western edge of the Delta.
Egypt also plans a 438.5 km fast rail at a cost of $8.2 billion.
In Alexandria it plans a $1.7 billion metro line to the eastern suburb of Abu Qir and a $406 million upgrade of an above-ground tramline through the city.
(Reporting by Patrick Werr; Editing by Tom Brown) ((firstname.lastname@example.org;))