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Ethiopian Railways Corporation locomotives
Newly delivered locomotives for the standard gauge railway at the depot in Addis Ababa.

The first railway in Ethiopia was the 780km metre gauge line linking the capital, Addis Ababa, with the port of Djibouti in the country of the same name. The first section, from Djibouti (in what was then French Somaliland) to Dire Dawa in Ethiopia (then Abyssinia), opened in 1901, but further construction was delayed by bankruptcy of the original railway company, and the line to Addis Ababa was not completed until 1917.

On the independence of Djibouti responsibility for the line passed to a new company jointly owned by the governments of the two countries. However, in the late 20th / early 21st centuries the line was allowed to deteriorate and languish, service became intermittent and the line eventually closed.

In 2016, a new 760km standard (1435mm) gauge electrified railway opened from Addis Ababa to Djibouti, replacing the metre gauge railway. About 660km of this line lies within Ethiopia. The new railway, along with the Addis Ababa tramway, is operated on behalf of the government by the Chinese contractors responsible for their construction.

Ethiopian Railways Corporation has also awarded contracts for construction of other lines:

Future plans include a line from Hara Gebeya to a new port at Tadjurah in Djibouti.

Addis Ababa has a modern tramway system, 32km in extent, opened in 2015.

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© 2006-2017 Glyn Williams
Flag image from CIA World Factbook
Photo image supplied by Ethiopian Railways Corporation