New Railway Line “Khartoum – El Obied”

Prefeasibility Study for Construction Of A New Railway Line Parallel to the existing Line Khartoum – El Obied

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  • Project cost = 1,344.6 m$
  • Total length (Main line + Stations) = 747 km
  • Annual Net Benefits = 199.5 m SDG
  • Internal Rate of Return = 17%
  • Pay –back Period = 15 years
  • Economic Age = 80 Years
  • Execution Period = 4 Years
Economies of Khartoum / EL Obied Region

The line Khartoum/ EL Obied passes through white Nile State, North Kordofan State and West Kordofan State .
Those states are famous by production of different agricultural products and are endowed also by greater livestock wealth. The Tables below shows the areas and production of the different crops and livestock population in each state:

Sugar production:

Kenana and Assalaya Sugar Companies are located in White Nile State. They produce annually around 464000 tons of Sugar i.e. 67% of sugar production in the country. All Kordofan states requirements from sugar are supplied by the two companies. In addition to that Kenana Sugar Company is planning to export large quantities of sugar to the western neighboring countries in the coming few years .

Petroleum Products:

EL Obied Refinery is located in ELObied the capital of North Kordofan StateAnnual production of the refinery from Gas oil &heavy fuel oil is estimated at 450,000 tons.

To meet all those huge transport requirements the line Khartoum/ EL Obied has been launched as one of the top priority projects in Sudan Railway’s medium term plan. The Railways is planning to utilize most of its potential capacity in the coming few years i.e. transportation of 4 million tons annually.

Forecasted tons through Khartoum/EL Obied line is estimated to reach 1.1 million tons after its rehabilitation. Rehabilitation of the line forms one of the major requirements which enable the Railways to attain the objective of utilizing all its potential capacity.

Livestock Transport:

Railway transportation of livestock concentrates only on export.

A triumphant project had been launched during the eighties of the last. Century under the title ‘’Livestock and Meat Marketing Project’’.

The railway had been chosen as the most suitable mode for transportation of livestock. Unfortunately the project did not last for long mainly for administrative reasons. Revitalization of this strategic project will surely lead to expansion of railway especially the local traffic to major consumption centers at the head of them is the capital Khartoum.

Passenger Traffic :

Sudan owing to its social relics and heritage is considered as one of the greater countries as far as the population mobility is concerned. Mobility ratio amounts to 26%.

The railway for the acute shortage of financial resources is unable to meet the transportation requirements of the huge passenger demand. The main reasons for that is the lower speed by which the trains are run which emanates from the bad condition of permanent way. Any upgrading or improvement in permanent way condition i.e. rehabilitation of Khartoum/EL Obied line will lead to attraction of a larger percentage of passenger who are compelled now to use the high costly and more risky road carriers .

Project Objectives &Description:

Construction of Khartoum/EL Obied line began in April 1909 from Khartoum and reached EL Obied city in western Sudan in December 1911.
During the period 1954-1957 rails were changed from 25 kg/m to heavier rails 37.5 kg/m to rails 45 kg/m and it stopped at the section Barakat/EL Haj Abdalla 219 kilometer east of Khartoum.

Present condition of the line is very poor and lead to underutilization of the line and consequently does not enable the railway to benefit from the advantages of large- scale production which constitute one of the most important railway’s characteristic.

The bad condition of the line is exemplified in the following:

A/ Lower Tolerance of Rails:

Rails which are used in the line are mostly light rails (37.5 kg/m) and which are very weak and will notenable the railway to run heavy locomotives or large- carrying capacity wagons. Train load on the section does not exceed at present 800 tons whereas the minimum load in resembling railways exceeds 2000 tons.

B/ Lower Train Speed:

Designed speed for rolling stock does not exceed at present 60 km/hr. Owing to the bad condition of the line actual speed on the line does not exceed 22 km/hr. Rehabilitation of the line will lead to raising train speed to at least 80 km/hr.

For all the aforesaid reasons and to the exigencies of development a new parallel line will be constructed according to modern specifications which include the following:


♦ Design standards: UIC, Chinese (GB), European (EN), AREMA, BSC.
♦ Track construction: Ballasted track with long welded rail.
♦ Track gauge: standard gauge 1435mm. In some routes (1067mm capable of subsequent modification to1435mm)Dual gauge
♦ Design train speed: (120) km/h future 160 km/h.
♦ Maximum gradient: 0.6% (recommended)
♦ Minimum curve radius: 1200m (and 800m in strict condition)
♦ Axle load: 25T
♦ Traction load: 3500T
♦ Effective length of arrival-departure track in stations: 750m
♦ Width of sub-grade surface: 7.5 at top of sub-ballast
♦ Thickness of sub-ballast and sub-grade: 600mm
♦ Embankment: depth of embankment under sub ballast varied.
♦ Ballast thickness below sleeper: 350mm for main line, 250mm for station and siding track.
♦ Rail: 60 kg/m rail (UIC 60)
♦ Sleepers: Pre-stressed concrete standard gauge (1435mm).IN some routes Pre-stressed concrete sleepers for Dual gauge
♦ Fastenings: Pandrol, Vossloh, or equivalent
♦ Turnouts: 1:12 and 1:9
♦ Subgrade & Ballast Cross Section
♦ Subgrade Slope 1:1.5 , 1.2 (According Soil Classifications )
♦ Ballast Slope ( 1: 1.5 or 1 : 1.75 ) Upper width of ballast 3.3mStandard structure gauge.

Signaling and TelecommunicationsSignaling:
General features:

A new signal and traffic control system should:

♦ Provide for overall direction and traffic management by a central controller
♦ Provide safely for trains, track maintenance work, etc.
♦ Not impose unnecessary or arbitrary restrictions on train movements, such as speed limits, or flexibility of operation (including shunting and special movements). In other words it should encourage maximum efficiency of operations.
♦ Be adaptable and expandable to meet changing traffic requirements.
♦ Be economical to install.
♦ make optimum use of advanced but proven technology such as computers, electronics, and radio communications.
♦ Permit advantageous use of new technology as it becomes available .
♦ Be easily maintainable .
♦ Be adaptable , with suitable variations, to the railways network .

Accordion Title

1. Train Control: Electronic Train Control System ETCS/CTCS.
2. Station Interlocking: Computer Based Interlocking.
3. Outdoor: Electric point machines and colour light signals.
4. Block Operation System: Semi-automatic.
5. Train Detection: On-board Communication dependant.
6. Monitoring: Centralized monitoring system.


As the existing communications facilities impose heavy constraints and limitations on train operations and the railway’s performance , it is crucial that the whole telecommunications network be improved , whether or not the track and signalling systems are upgraded or renewed .

1. Back-bone: Optical fibre cables and SDH with STM-1 System.
2. Train –to – land: Wireless Radio 152 MHz or 400 MHz band, TETRA or equivalent.
3. Dispatching System: Via Fibre optics and radio.

General features:

The future telecommunications system must be designed for:

• Short, medium and long distances.
• Multi – purpose applications:

1. Train security (signalling circuits).
2. Train operation (dispatching).
3. Freight and passenger transportation (commercial).
4. Railways administration (service and maintenance).
5. Railways management.

General features:

1. Train Control: Electronic Train Control System ETCS/CTCS.
2. Station Interlocking: Computer Based Interlocking.
3. Outdoor: Electric point machines and colour light signals.
4. Block Operation System: Semi-automatic.
5. Train Detection: On-board Communication dependant.
6. Monitoring: Centralized monitoring system.

Project cost:
Total cost of construction of the new parallel line is estimated at 1,344.6 m$ which equivalent to SDG 199.5 million.

Financial & Economic Analysis

Merchandise Traffic:

As a result of the poor condition of the line train speed does not exceed 22 km/hr. Delays of trains reached 10 hours in comparison to scheduled trip times i.e. 34 hours instead of 24 hours. Construction of the line will lead to raising of train speed to at least 160 km/hr. and will consequently improve the present scheduled running time by more than 33%. Benefits which will accrue include the following:

A/Duplication of transported Tons:
Transportation on the line does not exceed at present 400,000 tons which is attributed to the poor condition of the line.

B/Transit traffic to and from the neighboring countries after their interconnection with Sudan railways network will pass through this line. Excepted transit traffic is expected to reach 2 million tons annually. (1362 million ton – km).

Passenger Transportation:

As a result of the poor condition of the line the train trip takes a long time most important requirements of passengers which is exemplified in saving of travel time. At present passenger trains in this section has stopped since a long time.
Construction of new line and raising of train speed will shorten greatly the train trip time on the section and will definitely attract greater number of passengers which their number reaches 3 million passengers in this section at present.
The railway can transport not less than 730,000 passengers if it runs daily passenger train in the section (369 million passenger km).

Expected benefits will be in the form of line usage fees which equals for both ton- km and passenger –km the following:

Ton – km = 0.09 SDG
Passenger – km = 0.1 SDG

In accordance the future benefits are estimated as follow:

Revenues from freight traffic= 0.09 SDG× 1812 million ton- km
= SDG 163 million

Revenues from Passenger – km = 0.1 SDG×369 million passenger-km
= SDG 36.9 million

Total Expected Annual revenues = SDG 163 million + SDG 36.9 million
= SDG 199.9 million


To evaluate financial viability and economic feasibility of the project the following criteria are applied:

1/ Pay-back period:

The project will recover its cost in a period which does not exceed 15 years including the construction period which takes about 5 years. Recovery period is considered very short if we put into consideration the long economic life of the project which reaches more than 80 years.

2/ Internal Rate of Return(IRR):

Internal rate of return of the project equals 17%. This rate is considered very high if putting into consideration the project large cost.

3/ Social Impact:

Provide safe and comfortable ridership.
Lead to North-West social interaction.
Stimulate economic growth and consequently improve people standard of living.

4/ Environmental Impact:

In comparison with road carriers the railways have the following advantages:

Saving of 10-15 times in used areas.
Savings of 3-5 times in fuel.
Cause 2 percent of the total accidents in comparison to 98 percent by roads.
Pollute environment 75% less than road carries.

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