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Alstom report quantifies the advantages of city rail for African cities

(Ecofin agency) – According to Alstom, the development of light rail could reduce traffic congestion, which is expected to cost Africa $488 billion in 2030. It also means the creation of hundreds of thousands of jobs related to the construction, operation and maintenance of rail networks.

With Africa’s urban population expected to double over the next three decades, increasing the modal share of rail transport in African cities has significant economic, social and environmental benefits, according to a report by rail transport specialist Alstom published on November 14.

This report, produced in collaboration with EY Climate Change and Sustainability Services, Ernst & Young’s decarbonization and sustainability advisory arm, says Africa’s urban population is expected to grow from 600 million in 2021 to more than 1.3 billion because of the continent in 2050 will grow strong population growth.

One of the biggest challenges is ensuring that this growth is in line with United Nations Sustainable Development Goal #11: Make cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.

Since transport accounts for most of the global carbon dioxide (CO2), African cities must work to develop more sustainable transport systems to reduce carbon emissions and promote inclusive socio-economic growth.

Justified ” The role of light rail in a sustainable Africa In this regard, the report shows that increasing the modal share of urban rail networks in African cities to 10% in 2030 and 20% in 2050, compared to the baseline scenario of 1% today, will allow the continent to reap significant environmental benefits. A total of 1005 million tons (Mt) of CO2 (1 gigatonne of CO2) could be avoided in this scenario between 2023 and 2050 compared to the status quo. This equates to 32% of Africa’s total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in 2019.

In addition, another 173 million tons of CO2 avoided between 2023 and 2050 if light rail systems were powered entirely by renewable energy.

The train is currently still the most environmentally friendly means of transport. It emits 19 grams of CO2 per passenger compared to 63g/passenger for the bus and 180g/passenger for the car.

258 jobs per kilometer of track built

As Europe’s leading rail manufacturer and the second largest in the world, Alstom also points out that greater investment in urban rail transport would bring multiple social and economic benefits. Increasing rail’s modal share to 10% in 2030 and 20% in 2050 means 8 million and 29 million fewer cars on African roads per day, respectively, which would result in a significant reduction in congestion, road accidents and air pollution. The economic gains are all the greater as traffic congestion is projected to cost Africa $488 billion in 2030.

On the other hand, urban rail transport is cheaper than cars and other private modes of transport, which will make it easier for passengers to get to work and access essential services such as education and health.

This road-to-rail shift could also boost job creation related to the construction, operation and maintenance of rail networks in Africa, with about 258 jobs per kilometer of newly built rails: 226 jobs during construction and 32 jobs during the operational phase. A 60-kilometer city project, for example, would create more than 15,000 direct jobs.

The report also presents a small case study. These are the long-term benefits that rail projects will bring to the Egyptian capital, Cairo. This densely populated city has three operating subway lines, two upcoming subway lines and two monorail lines under construction.

With the additional metro and monorail lines alone, the metropolis should avoid a total of 35 million tons of CO emissions2 between 2023 and 2050, or 10% of Egypt’s total greenhouse gas emissions in 2019.

In addition, the city is reaping other social and economic benefits such as a reduction of 595,000 cars per day and a sharp reduction in traffic congestion, which is estimated to cost Egypt $8 billion a year.

Considering the positive impact of rail transport in African cities, Alstom recommends that governments include urban rail mobility in their local and national development policies to enable long-term planning and secure larger investments.

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