SUDAN is reportedly planning to invest $US 643m in renewing its 1067mm-gauge rail network and improving international connections, as the country recovers from years of dictatorship and debt issues.

The African Development Bank, China State Construction Engineering Corp and unspecified Gulf firms have expressed interest in helping restore about 2400km of unused track, Bloomberg reports, with the government initially planning to invest $US 17m in operational lines.

The second phase, due to be completed by 2024, will see lines in the south of Sudan renovated to restore links to the cities of Madani, Kosti and Sennar, as well as Nyala in the war-torn western region of Darfur, while establishing a cross-border connection to Wau, South Sudan.

Under the planned third stage, connections will be built from Sudan to Ethiopia, Chad, Eritrea and the Central African Republic, including a proposed line from Port Sudan on the Red Sea across Darfur to Chad, which could be built by China State Construction Engineering Corp.

A feasibility study is also being conducted for a line from Port Sudan to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, which could be funded by the African Development Bank.

Egypt and Sudan have previously agreed to construct a line from Aswan, Egypt, to Halfa, Sudan, to connect the two countries’ rail networks. The first stage would run for 283.5km from Aswan to Toshka and Abu Simbel, with the second stage extending the line to Halfa.

A detailed look at the development of rail in Africa appears in the July issue of IRJ.