Transport Minister Abdel-Qader Mohamed Ahmed and Alexander Sultanov [Saltanov] (pictured), vice-president of Russian Railways (RZhD), have met for talks at Tripoli Maritime Port aimed at resuming the stalled $4.5 billion project to link Benghazi and Sirte with a 554-km railway line.
According to a report from Libya Herald, Russian officials were tight-lipped about what was the first face-to-face meeting with the Libyans since the project was abandoned at the start of the revolution, but Sultanov said that RZhD was keen to resume the project.
RZhD began work on the Sirte-Benghazi line in August 2008. The company brought in track laying machinery, flat wagons and a 100 tonne crane. It also built accommodation for 400 workers at what would become Ras Lanuf station. During construction 3,500 Libyan and Russian workers were to be employed.
This project was part of a 3,170 km $12 billion national rail network, the lion’s share of which was awarded to the China Railway Construction Corporation (CRCC). In 2008 it won a $2.5 billion contract to build a 352 km line between Al Khums and Sirte. This was due to be completed by this year.
There was also to be an 800 km line from the iron ore deposits at Wadi Shati near Sebha to Misrata. That line should have been finished last year. In 2009 CRCC was awarded a further contract worth $802 million for 172 km of the network from Tripoli to the Tunisian border at Ras Ejder, to be completed by the middle of this year.
(Source: Libya Herald)