EGYPTIAN National Railways (ENR) has signed two contracts worth more than €1bn with Škoda Group to refurbish and maintain at least 280 diesel-electric locomotives.

The contracts mark Škoda’s first entry into an African market. The first is for the overhaul of locomotives over nine years, followed by a second contract for full-service maintenance for a period of up to 15 years.

Most of the refurbishment work will be carried out in Egypt, Škoda says, which will support transfer of skills and include positions for local employees in all production roles.

Škoda Group CEO, Mr Didier Pfleger; ambassador of the Czech Republic to Egypt, Mr Ivan Jokl, minister of transport, Mr Kamel Al-Wazir, and ENR chairman, Mr Mohamed Abdel Aziz Amer.

To start the project, two prototype locomotives will be modernised at Škoda’s production and service site at Šumperk in the Czech Republic.

The locomotives' drives and air supply systems will be overhauled, and their braking systems and electrical wiring comprehensively modernised. The driver's cabs will also be transformed, with new control panels installed. The Train Control and Management System will also be modified.

The remaining locomotives will then be modernised, overhauled and maintained in Egypt with Škoda expertise. The company will provide training at its sites for the prototypes, and Egyptian staff will acquire the necessary expertise in the Czech Republic and in Egypt to carry out work on the locomotives to European standards. Škoda will also work with its partner in Egypt to recruit employees locally.

“Over the next nine years, we will deliver at least 280 rehabilitated and overhauled locomotives to Egypt with an extended service life of another 15 to 20 years,” says Škoda Group senior vice-president, service, Mr Marek Herbst. “We are convinced that full service is the most efficient way for our customers to receive quality care and maintenance for their entire fleet of vehicles.”

“Our aim is to use our skills and experience to build lasting relationships and make a long-term contribution to improving the quality of the rail sector in the Middle East and Africa,” says Škoda Group CEO, Mr Didier Pfleger. “The success of being awarded with this project is further confirmation of our strategy of expanding into foreign markets.”