Comprehensive National Rail Network
Cost: $5.6 billion
Construction period: 2008-12 (original estimate)
Libya's civil war has halted an ambitious plan to build an extensive $5.6-billion rail system designed to bolster both passenger and freight service.
The major east-west route would parallel the coast, ultimately stretching 2,300 kilometers from Ras Ejder on the border of Tunisia to Umm Sa’ad on the Egyptian border.
The regime awarded separate contracts to Russian and Chinese contractors to complete certain segments. In 2008, crews from RZD, the Russian state railway, began building the 554-km Surt-to-Benghazi segment, which had been set to include four major stations and 24 minor ones. The owner expected the project to take four years at a cost of $3 billion.
As part of the project, RZD built a rail-welding plant in Ras Lanuf, with a capacity to produce 500 km of long welded rail per year for use in Libya, as well as for export to Russia.
Also in 2008, China Railway Construction Corp. (CRCC) began laying track westward along a 625-km segment from Surt, via Al Khums and Tripoli, to Ras Ejder. The company also has been awarded an 800-km north-south segment, which will be used to transport iron ore from the southern city of Sebha to a steel mill and port at Misratah, when completed, likely this year. CRCC’s contracts are reported to total $2.6 billion.
Work on the system halted in February 2011, when the Libyan rebellion began. According to a Russian news report, RZD evacuated all of its 123 staff employees as well as 700 non-Russian workers. An RZD spokesman confirms that the company is awaiting approval from the new Libyan government to return to the project.