The 752km line is electrified throughout at 25kV ac and double track for the first 115km between Addis Ababa and Adama with single track on the remainder of the route.

China Railway Eryuan Engineering Group built the 317km Addis Ababa - Me'eso section while China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC) won a $US 1.2bn contract in January 2012 to construct the 340km section from Me'eso to Dire Dawa and Dewele on the Djibouti border. Italferr, the engineering subsidiary of Italian State Railways (FS), provided consultancy services for maintenance and operations.

CRRC Corporation supplied 35 HXD1C locomotives for the new railway as well as passenger and freight rolling stock.

The $US 4.5bn Ethiopian section of the line was 30%-funded by the Ethiopian government and the remainder through a soft loan from China’s Exim bank.

The final 100km section from Dewele to Durale on the Red Sea coast was implemented by the Djibouti government. China Railway Construction Corporation was awarded a $US 505m contract to build this stretch of the line in February 2012, again with finance coming from China.

The new railway is a key component of the National Railway Network of Ethiopia (NRNE).