LIBYA’s deputy transport minister, Mr Fadlallah Ashour, and the head of the Railway Project Implementation and Management Agency, Mr Saeed Al-Kilani, have met with the Russian ambassador to Libya, Mr Aydar Aganin, to discuss the reactivation of the $US 3bn project to build the 551km new line between Surt and Benghazi.

Russian Railways (RZD) was awarded a contract in 2009 to deliver the new railway, but construction came to a halt following the toppling of the Gadaffi regime in 2011.

Both parties agreed on the need for a clear roadmap and timeline for reactivating the Surt - Benghazi project. The meeting concluded with a commitment to collaborate closely and to see the project through to completion.

The Surt - Benghazi line was intended to form the first phase of a new railway along the Libyan coast from the border with Tunisia to the frontier with Egypt. It was designed for diesel operation at up to 160km/h with provision for future electrification and a maximum speed of 250km/h.

China Railway Construction began work on the 352km Surt - Misratah - Al Khums section and the 172km western section between Tripoli and the Tunisian border at Ras Adjir.

In 2009 Ansaldo STS was awarded a signalling, telecommunications, and power supply contract covering for both sections.

The following year, RZD subsidiary Zarubezhstroyteknologiya awarded Ansaldo STS and Selex Communications a €247m contract to supply signalling, automation, telecommunications, power supply, security, and ticketing systems for the entire 551km Surt - Benghazi line.

Work subsequently came to halt during the period of political instability that followed the ousting of the Gadaffi regime.

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