All aboard Senegal’s first regional express train, with service from Dakar to Diamniadio! Expected to serve tens of thousands of daily commuters between the capital and the new city of Diamniadio, the express train is part of an aim to alleviate heavy traffic congestion and speed up travel in and around the capital in particular.
A first in the region
One of the flagship projects of Macky Sall’s Emerging Senegal Plan (ESP), it received support from AFD Group in the form of three successive concessional loans totalling €230 million to help build what is the first high-speed train not only in Senegal, but in all of Francophone West Africa.
AFD also provided €750,000 in grants to help support the train’s contracting authority in legal expertise, technical assistance, and other services. The African Development Bank (AfDB), the Islamic Development Bank (IDB), the French Treasury Department, and the Government of Senegal helped to co-finance the project, which required a total of €1 billion for completion.
The train, which can reach speeds of up to 160 km/h, covers a route of 38 kilometers, across 13 stations. Second class tickets will cost just over €2, and first class seats will cost about twice that.
“The train was built quickly compared to similar projects,” says Claire Boisseau, AFD’s former Country Director for Senegal. “It’s a great infrastructure and urban mobility project that will ease congestion in the city.” A second 19-kilometer route is scheduled to link Diamniadio to the new airport from early 2024.
Meeting the challenges of a growing city
Growing urbanization is creating huge challenges for the Cap Vert Peninsula, where Dakar is located: the city already has a population of 3 million and sees an influx of 100,000 new residents each year. Dakar’s toll highway, recently built with AFD support, was a first step to fight the city’s saturated road traffic conditions.
The new train is designed to further relieve Dakar’s traffic and to help solve the problems of an overdeveloped city center with limited links to the surrounding suburbs. Running every 10 minutes on weekdays and every 15 to 20 minutes on weekends, trains are expected to transport 110,000 passengers daily at first, a figure that may nearly double by 2025. Commuters could see their travel time reduced by up to an estimated 45 minutes for an average journey during rush hour.
The train line will also help meet the challenges of sustainable development. “This revolutionary regional express train is a less polluting public transport system,” says President Macky Sall. Claire Boisseau agrees: “As it's a mass transit project, it has a positive impact on the environment. Thanks to this line, we expect greenhouse gas emissions to drop by nearly 19,000 tons of CO2 per year.”
A train designed for everyone
Prices will vary across three travel zones, and will initially be subsidized, with the goal being to eventually move toward making a profit. “Between now and mid-January 2022,” says Claire Boisseau, “the infrastructure will be gradually taken over by the local authority.” In the meantime, schools and associations are being invited to make use of the new regional express train. Ticket sales will follow.
AFD Group will continue to support Greater Dakar’s urban mobility strategy. The Groups has participated in the financing of the airport, the toll highway, and now the regional express train. Other projects are in the works, such as a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project – involving AFD’s private sector subsidiary Proparco and the World Bank – and are expected to be ready by early 2023.
This year, AFD is also providing support for priority bus lines, which will form a network that links the regional express train to the BRT for even more mobility in and around Dakar.