New Railway Line “Port Sudan – Khartoum”

Prefeasibility Study for Construction of A New Standard Gauge Line Parallel to The ExistingLine Port Sudan – Khartoum

Click here to view the Project Summary
  • Project cost = 1,533 m$
  • Total length:
    – Khartoum – Atbara = 350 km (including stations)
    – Atbara – Port Sudan = 598 km (including stations)
  • Annual Net Benefits = 244.7 mSDG
  • Internal Rate of Return = 7%
  • Pay –back Period = 15 years
  • Economic Age = 80 Years
  • Execution Period = 5 Years
Project Background:

Satisfactory infrastructure is fundamental condition wellfunctioning transport systems. Consequences of weak andpoorly maintained infrastructures are multiple and varied butmost important is usually longer transit time and highertransport costs. Those two conditions form the most importantexigencies in modern transport market especially for passengertraffic. Unfortunately Sudan Railways with its very aging lineshas been unable to meet those requirements. Construction ofmost of the lines was completed during the first quarter of the20th century. Length of lines which were constructed thereinwith an age which exceeds 80 years amounts to 3094 kilometersand represent 68.6%of the total network length. 1362 kilometersof the lines were constructed during the beginning of the secondhalf of the 20th century and most of them are more than 60 years old.

Beside their long ages the technical characteristics of thoselines are very primitive and were built on earthen embankments.

The bad situation of the railway lines is exemplified in thevery long transit time and the very low train speeds which donot exceed 35 km/hr in the most efficient lines (Port Sudan –Khartoum).

The bad situation of the lines constitutes one of the majorcauses of derailments, and the weakness of their earthenembankments doesn’t enable them to withstand any washoutswhatever their strength. Maintenance of those lines forms thebiggest item of expenditure and exhausts most of the railway meager resources.

The idea of the project emanates also from the greatdifficulties which the railway faces in the provision of any newpurchases from rolling stock, track materials and tools andmachineries. Importation of those items take a long time andcost large amounts of money because their manufacture is verylimited and always begins after completion of all the purchasingprocedures and opening of the letter of credit for the winningbidder. Total length of the railway lines in the whole worldamounts to 655,286 kilometers. Length of narrow gauge lineshere from amounts to 46,430 kilometers and represents only 7percent of the total international railway network. Most of thenarrow gauge lines are used for side traffic like transportation ofmetals.
The economies and problems of narrow gauge line haveconstituted one of the major topics which were discussed in the regional and international rail organizations like theInternational Railway Union, African Union and AfricanRailways Union. All those studies confirm the necessity oftransformation from the narrow gauge to standard gauge. Thelatest recommendations concerning this issue are therecommendation which were adopted by the Johannesburg.
Professional Conference which was organized by the African Union in Johannesburg in November2007 i.e. recommendationnumber 4 which reads as follows:

For new railway lines, encourage the constriction of tracks with standard gauges in order to bring Africa railway transportin line with the development perspective” ( annex 1 ) .

Last but not least the technical and economic feasibility ofthe project has been reconfirmed by the Chinese company(CRI) whoagreed to finance and execute the project.

Analysis of with or without the project:

The alternative of non- execution of the project isupgrading of the existing line Port Sudan – Khartoum .Upgrading works comprise the upgrading works for the 948 kmlong railway line between Port Sudan and Khartoum, andincludes removal of existing rails, turnouts and sleepers, as wellas the existing signaling and communication systems andreinforcement of some existing culverts and bridges, wideningof embankments, erosion protection works, laying of ballast,new concrete sleepers and new rails and turnouts and in stallionof new signaling and communication systems. Upgrading of the existing line will not lead to are markable change in the technical characteristics of the track.The gauge will remain a narrow gauge as it is and axle load willnot exceed 16.5 tons and the maximum train speed- 60 km/hwill be restored. Those technical characteristics will not improvethe railway position in the transport market and will not alsolead to a remarkable improvement in the railway axle load,which are considered as the most important variables for thecompetitiveness in the transport market.

As a result of the continuous declining of the railwayefficiency during the last four decades the railway share in thetransport market declined to less than 10 percent from the totalfreight traffic and less than 2 percent from the total passengertraffic. Most of the railway traffic has been continuouslydiverted to road haulers (trucks and lorries) in spite of theirtechnical and economical unsuitability for those carriages.Unsuitability is exemplified mainly in the long distances ofcarriage by road haulers which reach 800 kilometers where istheir maximum suitable distances which are confirmed by allinternational studies do not exceed 300 kilometers.
For all those above-mentioned limitations of the upgradingalternative, construction of a new standard gauge line parallel tothe existing Port Sudan – Khartoum line has been chosen as themost economically and technically favorable alternative.

Project Description

The project aims at construction of a new standard gaugelines (1435 mm) parallel to the existing line Port Sudan-Khartoum 948 km long.

The line will be constructed according to modern specifications which includes:


♦ 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 .

Technical 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.


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 .

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.

Technical features:

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.

1/ Cost – benefit analysis:

To arrive to the suitable alternative we use hereunder the cost- benefit technique.
It is very apparent from the description of the upgrading alternative and construction of a standard gauge new parallel line that the upgrading works and construction works are almost common i.e. welding, change of rails and sleepers and signaling systems are almost identical. The difference between construction of a new line and upgrading the existing line does not exceed 25%. This low difference is outweighed by the great advantages which will accrue by construction of a new standard gauge line which include:
• Provision of all the modern exigencies for passenger transport.
• Meeting of the transportation requirements of the
Country which is envisaged to be more than tripled at the end of the ongoing Five- Year Plan (2007 –2011).
• Lowering of transport cost by more than 30%. Solving the problem of the escalating number of
• Road haulers accidents which put Sudan as the country number 16 in terms of road accidents world wide.

2/ Effect ofThe Project on the Existing Assets:

(1) Rolling Stock:
Port Sudan – Khartoum line is considered as the main corridor on which more than 50% of the railway traffic passes.According to this large percentage of the rolling stock is usually appropriated for this line.
Railway stock of locomotives amounts to 131 locomotives (year 2008) 75 locomotives of the stock entered the service before the mid-eighties of the 20th. Century their age now surpasses more than 25 years and they represent 57.3 percent of the total fleet. 13 locomotives entered the service in the period1991 – 1995 and they represent 9.2 percent of the total fleet.

28 locomotives – Indian and Chinese – entered the service during the period 2004 – 2008. This means that all the existing number of operational locomotives (59) will enable the railway to carry 1.6 million tons.

Till the execution of the project in the year 2015 those locomotives will operates and the remainder of them will continue to operate in the other lines including the existing PortSudan – Khartoum line.

The same thing applies to the freight wagons. At present from stock of 4671 freight wagons, 760 freight wagons are new and the remaining have an age which exceed 30 years ( the economic lifetime ) . They constitute only 15.6% of the existing stock.

Annual carrying capacities of the operational wagon (2406) are estimated at not more than 1,732,000 tons.

This means that the SRC will require more than 4000wagons 50 tons capacity to transport the additional expected tonnage (more than 4.2 million tons) at the year 2016.
(2) Locomotive workshops:
Workshops of Sudan railways lack the existence of modern equipment. By very meager expenses those workshops can be modernized and amended to cater for the maintenance of the standard gauge rolling stock till the construction of new ones after the completion of the transformation to standard gauge project.

3/ Provision Of standard gauge rolling stock:

A lot of traffic which passes through the main corridor originates from Port Sudan to Khartoum or from Atbara to Khartoum and vice versa. This traffic include wheat, flour, Cement, machineries etc.. Requisite number of rolling stock for transportation of that traffic besides the rolling stock for passenger traffic will be ordered to run exclusively between PortSudan – Atbara – Khartoum.
The remainder of the traffic for other destinations will continue to be carried by the existing rolling stock and the additional ones which will be imported with the same specifications. This bi-operation system will continue till the complete transfer to the standard gauge.

4/ Project Benefits:

Port Sudan and Khartoum will attain the following Benefits:

(1) Transportation of Passengers:

Number of passengers transported by the railway between Atbara and Khartoum and Atbara and Port Sudan amounted to31, 818 passengers in the year 2008.
Total number of passengers between those cities is estimated to reach more than 3 million passenger sannually after expected date of the completion of the
Project. Increase of train speed to 120 km/h will make the railway most competitive with speed which exceeds the bus speed (80 km/h) by 50%. In the contrary to the road haulers the transport by railway is stress free and more comfortable i.e. reconditioned and spacious coaches and provision of different types of coaches which satisfy the requirements of all passengers i.e. sleeping, first, second and third class coaches. In addition to provision of dining cars and buffets and lavatories.It is very apparent from the experiences of most of the international networks that all passengers prefer travel by railway if they provide the requisite exigencies in terms of short transit time and the ridership comfort. All those exigencies will be provided by the execution of the standard gauge new parallel line. Numbers of passengers who will divert to the railways are expected to be not less than 80% of the total number of passengers i.e. more than2.4 million passengers per annum.

(2) Recaptured tonnage:

Freight transportation of imports and exports is estimated at present at not less than 4.5 million tons. The railway’s share in that traffic does not exceed 533,000 tons (year2008). This very low percentage is attributed to the inefficiency of the railway resulting from the bad condition of the permanent way.Construction of the new line will overcome this problem. It will also lead to a remarkable reduction in transport cost.Capacity of the proposed line will be more than double the existing capacity. The higher capacity of the line is an important variable in the transport cost. Transport cost decrease proportionally with any improvement in railway performance. Transport cost declines with any increase in traffic because railways benefit greatly from the economies of large scale as a result of the greater percentage of their fixed cost from the total transport cost which is estimated to reach 60 percent . Transport cost constitutes one of the major variables which affect the competitiveness of any transport system. Improvement in railway performance will enable it to recapture at least 50 percent of the present import and export traffic which is estimated at not less than 2.3million tons per annum.

(3) Cement transportation:

River Nile State is endowed by its richness of large reserves of stones from which high quality Portland cement can be produced. Many cement factories have been already established and others are now under construction with a productivity which amounts to 8.4 million tons per annum. They are namely as follows:
• Atbara Cement factory which was established since the 40th of the last 20th century with annual productivity which amounts to 400,000tons. EL salam factory which began production in September 2008 with annual productivity which amounts to 600,000 tons.
ShmedIsmaeel factory with a productivity which amounts to 1,500,000 tons annually (under construction) .
Uhud factory with a productivity which amounts to 100,000 tons annually (under construction).
Berber factory with a productivity which amounts to 600,000 tons per annum.
Hilis factory with a productivity which amounts to 600,000 tons per annum.
Sudani Cement factory with a productivity which amounts to 900,000 tons per annum.
Ahkam factory with a productivity which amounts at1,500,000 tons per annum.
Mam factory with a productivity whicha mounts to 1,500,000 tons per annum.
Kuru factory with a productivity which amounts to 900,000 tons.
Total production of all above mentioned factories will amount to 8.5 million tons per annum. Nearly all those factories have put transportation by rail asthe first alternative and their feasibility studies were based accordingly. Also most of those factories applied for construction of railway sidings. The envisaged large quantities of cement will cover the national demand and the remainder will be exported. The share of the railway in transported of cement to Khartoum and Port Sudan is estimated to be around 3million tons per annum.

(4) Agricultural Renaissance:

Avery triumphant program has been launched under the sponsorship of the Republic Presidency. The program aimsat revitalization of agricultural production by provision of all the necessary requirements including irrigation mean sand agricultural machineries. The aim of this program is to promote export of agricultural products and reach self-satisfaction from production of all the food crops including the wheat. At the end of the ongoing five- year plan ( 2007– 2011 ) large projects for production of wheat is expected to produce not less than one million tons of wheat mainly in the Northern State and increase of agricultural export to more than 1.8 million tons annually .The big areas for the potential production centers in the Northern State, Blue Nile State and the Western States from the major consumption centers will suit the rail transportation with its preferential advantage for carrying large amounts for long distances with a relatively low cost.The share of the railway after the construction of the new
Standard gauge line is estimated to reach more than 1.5million tons of export and local traffic.

5/ Financial and Economic Analysis

(1) Capital Cost:

The total cost of construction of the new parallel standard gauge line Port Sudan – Khartoum is estimated at 1,533 million US $ .

(2) Expected Demand:

Potential railway transport demand after the completion of the construction of the new line is expected to surpass 2.4 million passengers (960 million pkm) and 6.8 million tons (3,496 million ton-km) per annum.

Net benefits which will accrue from transportation of the expected traffic after deduction of the variable costs i.e. fuel,stores and depreciation equals SDG 0.07 for each ton kilometer.
Benefits, from transportation of 3496 million ton kilometers will amount to SDG 244.7 million annually.

(3) Other Benefits:

Construction of the new line will lead to remarkable reduction in transport cost and fuel consumption as well as maintenance cost of the permanent way.
Transportation of 6.8 million tons and 2.4 million passengers per annum will lead to a remarkable reduction in fuel consumption. Consumption of fuel for transportation of one tonkilo meter is estimated at 0.001 liter compared with 0.006 liter for road haulers.
Savings in fuel by transportation of 3496 million ton km of freight and 960 p km is estimated to be more than SDG 23.3million per annum. Those savings are considered as direct benefits from construction of the new parallel standard gauge line.


The financial viability and economic feasibility of the Project is estimated as follows:

1/ Internal Rate of Return:

Internal rate of return is estimated at 7 percent.It is considered verygood if we put into consideration the hugeamounts of capital which will be invested in the project.
2/ Pay- back Period:

The project will pay back all its capital investment in a Period which doesn’t exceed 15 years including the Period of construction which will take five years.

3/ Fuel Saving:
Execution of the project will save more than SDG 23.3 million which will expended if the expected tonnage are transported by the road haulers.

4/The project will lessen tremendously the escalating number of accidents of road hauler by more than hundred folds because as the international statistics show the ratio of accidents of rail to road is 1 to 100.

5/ Execution of the project will lead to a remarkable reduction in transport cost which is estimated to be not less than 30 per cent.

African Union Profissional Conference

Side Panel

Contact Us

Your Name

Your Email (required)

Your Message


Facebook User Timeline

personal training certification