Rail transport in Ethiopia

Old train station in Addis Ababa

Rail transport in Ethiopia

The only railway line ever built in Ethiopia was the one joining Addis Ababa and Djibouti, via Dire Dawa. The construction of a railway was suggested to Emperor Menelik II to replace the six-week mule trek between the capital and the French port city of Djibouti in 1889.

Discussion of an Ethiopian railway construction was initiated by Alfred Ilg from Switzerland, with his French associates. Construction took a long time of 20 years, from 1897 to 1917, due to a multitude of problems, such as corruption of the French administration, several fake incidents of sabotage, and the usual problem – shortage of money.

So from 1917 for nearly a hundred years our railroad was giving service to people of Ethiopia. Now most of the railway is no longer operational, but there is a plan to build about 5000 km of railways by the year 2020.

The railway network in northern part of the country will run from Mekele-Woldiya Hara Gebeya-Semera-Dicheto-Elidar, ultimately linking northern regions with Port Tadjourah in neighbouring Djibouti allowing an alternative route to land locked Ethiopia.

The northern railway project will have an extension which runs from Woldiya-Awash joining the Addis Ababa-Djibouti line.

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