Senegal’s new commuter train makes its first trip from the capital Dakar

DAKAR, December 27 (Reuters) – A new $ 1.3 billion suburban railway in Senegal, intended to ease traffic congestion and modernize a crumbling public transport system, carried out its first on Monday trip from Dakar, the capital.

The Regional Express will connect Dakar to Diamniadio, an industrial city under construction on a dusty plain about 40 kilometers (25 miles).

The first new railway since independence from France in 1960 is the cornerstone of President Macky Sall’s Emerging Senegal Plan, which includes a new airport, roads, sports arenas and a sleek conference center.

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The projects have revived Senegal’s image as one of Africa’s fastest growing economies. And air-conditioned trains are expected to cut pollution in Dakar, where old, battered buses and taxis throw clouds of black smoke as they make their way to the capital each morning.

“The Senegalese deserve to travel in comfort and safety, while controlling their time, with a public transport system meeting the best international standards,” the government said in a statement on Monday.

The 45-minute ride with built-in Wi-Fi will cost almost $ 3 in a country where half the population lives in poverty, although shorter trips are cheaper.

About 115,000 passengers are expected to commute between Dakar and Diamniadio daily, the government said. Further extensions will link the main airport and possibly other towns and villages in the years to come.

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Reporting by Diadie Ba and Edward McAllister; Editing by Richard Chang

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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