The electrification works include the installation of 850 masts, 143km of overhead catenary, and 18 sub-stations.

The east-west line is 17.4km long and runs from Ayat to Torhailoch, while the 16.9km north-south links Minelik Square with Kality. The two lines share a 2.7km common section between Meskel Square and Lideta. Construction started in 2012 and is now 60% complete.

CNR, China, is supplying a fleet of 41 70% low-floor LRVs to Addis Ababa. The first vehicles are due to arrive by the end of the year to allow three months of test running to start in January 2015. The lines will have a capacity of 15,000 passengers/hour/direction.

Ethiopian Railways Corporation (ERC), which is responsible for implementing the $US 475m project, plans to appoint a private operator to run the network. "We will seek for an internationally-recognised company to hire as a management contractor when we begin operations," says ERC's director general, Dr Getachew Betru. "The safety and security of our customers is our biggest priority."