Ethiopians take a selfie after experiencing the newly inaugurated railway at the Lebu station in Addis Ababa, capital of Ethiopia, Oct. 5, 2016. (Xinhua/Li Baishun)
ADDIS ABABA, July 22 (Xinhua) -- The Chinese built 756 km electrified rail project connecting landlocked Ethiopia to Djibouti will start commercial operations in October, according to the Ethiopian transportation minister.
Speaking to Xinhua, Ahmed Shide, Minister of Ethiopia's Ministry of Transportation, said the rail project is a showcase of China's support for Ethiopia's efforts to transform its economy through infrastructural development.
Shide says Ethiopia is currently doing test runs on the railway and is finalizing preparations to form a joint venture company with Djibouti to manage it.
"We hope the rail project will facilitate expansion of industrial manufacturing and boost Ethiopia's competitiveness by significantly cutting time needed for Ethiopia's exports to reach Djibouti port," he added.
Li Chenglin (C), head of the train crew, gives cookies to passengers on a passenger train of Ethiopia-Djibouti railway in Ethiopia, on Oct. 5, 2016. (Xinhua/Sun Ruibo)
The electrified rail line is expected to cut transportation time needed for goods to reach Djibouti port from the Ethiopian hinterland and vice versa from at least two days to 10 hours.
The rail line will also provide a passenger service, with an average speed of 120 km per hour and a single coach holding 118 passengers at a time.
The first 320 km of the rail project from Sebeta to Mieso was carried out by China Rail Engineering Corporation while the remaining 436 km from Mieso to Djibouti port section was built by China Railway Group.