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Ethiopia-Djibouti electric railway line opens

Ethiopia and Djibouti have launched the first fully electrified cross-border railway line in Africa.

It links Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, to the Red Sea port of Djibouti – a stretch of more than 750km (466 miles).

Travelling at 120km/h, the new service cuts the journey time down from three days by road to about 12 hours.

The $3.4bn (£2.7bn) project was built with the help of funding from a Chinese bank and will have Chinese staff.

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The track runs parallel to the abandoned Ethio-Djibouti railway, built more than 100 years ago.

Chinese employees of the Addis Ababa / Djibouti train line stand at the Feri train station in Addis Ababa on September 24, 2016. With Chinese conductors at the helm, a fleet of shiny new trains will on October 5, 2016 begin plying a new route from the Ethiopian capital to Djibouti, in a major boost to both economies.

The passenger trains – which will run each way daily – are to start in three months’ time and ticket prices will be announced nearer the time.

‘It will transform my business’

Getachew Betru, chief executive of Ethiopia Railways, says it will be much cheaper and more reliable than travelling to Djibouti by road.

“In Ethiopia currently if you want to bring your container from Hong Kong to Djibouti it will take you maybe two, three weeks. But it will take you more than that to take it from Djibouti to Addis Ababa. It will now take us one day or more,” he said.

At the opening ceremony on Wednesday, Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn said that the rail line would be a boost to the economy.

“It will provide huge benefits to the industrial parks and modern farms that will be built in the future,” he said.

A train is seen at the Adama train station of Oromia region during a media guided tour of the Ethio-Djibouti Railways route in Adama, Ethiopia, September 24, 2016. REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri