Addis Ababa to open first section of light rail

North-south section of line to become operational

Half of the long-awaited Addis Ababa Light Railway, running from the north to south of the capital, is scheduled to open on 20 September, according to the Ethiopian Railway Corporation (ERC).

The 17-km line passes through Menelik Square, Merkato, Lideta, Legehar, Meskel Square, Gotera and Kaliti, and is part of a 34-km double track light rail project that has been under construction by the China Railway Engineering Corporation since late 2011.

The other half of the Addis Ababa Light Rail Transit (AALRT) line runs east to west, from Ayat Village to Tor Hailoch, passing through Megenagna, Legehar and Mexico Square. The ERC say that this line will also open soon although an opening date has not been announced yet.

The $475-million project has been funded from the Export-Import Bank of China, and is being implemented by Ethiopian Railways Corporation (ERC) as part of the nation's five-year “Growth and Transformation” programme.

The China Electric Power Equipment and Technology, the company in charge of connecting the line's power supply to the national grid, has promised a reliable train service that will not effect the capital's electricity supply. Commuters can use both cash or electromagnetic travel cards.

The minimum cost to use the north-south line is two birr for a four-km journey while the most expensive trip is six birr to travel the full 17-km journey.

The full 34-km network shares almost three-km of track between Meskel Square and Lideta, and once the entire system is operational it will have a capacity of 15,000 passengers per hour in either direction.