The 656 km Addis Ababa-Djibouti railway line will start trial service in the first week of October, according to the Ethiopian Railways Corporation. The trial service is expected to last three to six months, Dereje Tefera, Chief Officer of Communication Service with the Corporation said recently during a visit by local and foreign journalists to the Addis-Adama route of the project.
The project that consumes US$3.4 billion is part of Ethiopia’s plan of constructing around 5,000 km of new railway lines across the country by 2020. The Addis Ababa-Djibouti Railway links Addis Ababa with the port of Djibouti, providing Ethiopia with improved railroad access to the sea.
It is expected to boost Ethiopia’s trade by reducing the goods’ movement duration from two days to eight hours. The railway line being built by China Railway Engineering Corporation (CREC) and China Civil Engineering Construction (CCECC) took 42 months to be completed.
The Addis Ababa–Djibouti Railway is a standard gauge railway that links Addis Ababa with the port of Djibouti, providing landlocked Ethiopia with improved railroad access to the sea. The port of Djibouti is critical for Ethiopia’s economy, accounting for 90% of Ethiopia’s trade in 2016. Conversely, Ethiopia is also important for Djibouti’s economy, as Ethiopia accounted for 70% of the trade through the port of Djibouti in 2011.
The railway runs parallel to the abandoned Ethio-Djibouti Railway, a meter-gauge railway that was originally built by the French between 1894 and 1917. However, the standard gauge railway is being built on a new right-of-way that does not reuse any of the old stations. The line is double-track for the first 115 km, from Addis Ababa to Adama, and single-track thereafter.