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Top 9 Fastest Trains in Africa

Some African train networks operate above a high dedicated speed and are becoming a reality for fast travel across the continent. 

However, the new era of supersonic airplanes remains a concept.

At present, traveling around African cities is getting faster by train, with the popular high-speed trains pioneering the concept by taking just a few minutes to complete every journey.

That notwithstanding, by reading this article, you’ll get to know the few fastest trains available in Africa that can speed up your travels.

Below are the nine (9) African fastest trains in commercial services ranked by their speed, counting down from the ninth to the first-fastest.

9. Cairo Metro Line

Metro Line Cairo is the first metro network and rapid transit in Africa operating since 1987, owned by the Egyptian National Authority for Tunnels and managed by the Egyptian National Railways (ENR).

When Africans think of a high-speed train, Cairo Metro Line counts among the fastest running across the continent with the line length of 44.3 km (27.53 mi), though it’s the 9th on the list.

Although it isn’t the most luxurious train among others or the newest on the continent, it offers a fast travel speed, which transported up to 3.5 million passengers per day in 2019.

Cairo Metro Line is the only underground metro network in Africa with grade street running, consisting of three lines, which altogether extent above 83 km, serving up to 69 stations (some websites quote 35 stations).

Speed of Cairo Metro Line 

The train covers a maximum speed of 80 kilometers per hour (50 mph), conveying up to 60,000 passengers every one hour in each direction. 

The first metro line system, Cairo Metro Line 1, is designed to carry 60,000 passengers in one hour while traveling with 2.5minutes frequency and a maximum speed of 100 kilometers per hour.

Due to its speed, this train, each year, transports over 12 million tons of freight and 500 million passengers on the urban rail network across the African cities.

Safety

In terms of safety, Cairo Metro Line is safe enough to travel with, just that it can be busy at times.

Cost of traveling with Cairo Metro Line

· A journey of between 1 and 9 stops, costs EGP 5 instead of EGP 3 a ticket

· For 9 to 16 stops, the cost per ticket is EGP 7 instead of EGP 5

· Finally, for 16 – 40 stops, the cost of a ticket is EGP 10 instead of EGP 7

Three Cairo Metro Lines

Cairo Metro Line 1 joins Line 2 at Sadat and Shohadaa and Stations, which further connects with Line 3 at Nasser Station, after its completion in October 2015, and Phase 3 of Line 3.

8. Metrorail, South Africa

Metrorail is a commuter rail service and the 8th fastest train on the continent, operating across the metropolitan areas of South Africa.

It operates up to 468 train stations on 1,384 miles of track, equivalent to (2,228 kilometers), and conveys passengers ranging between 1.7 million – 2million continually every workday.

Out of the 468 stations of Metrorail South Africa, The PRASA owns 317, while the remaining belongs to Transnet Freight Rail.

Maximum speed

Metrorail, South Africa, covers the maximum speed of 90 kilometers per hour (55mph).

Operational areas

The train network of Metrorail covers the operational areas: Western Cape, Eastern Cape, Gauteng, and KwaZulu-Natal.

7. Abuja – Kaduna Train or Rail Line, Nigeria

Abuja – Kaduna Tail Line is 7th Africa’s fastest train system providing more effortless and cheaper traveling options utilizing the Nigeria Standard Guage Railway route (a replacement of the narrow gauge system).

With China’s support, the construction of the Abuja-Kaduna standard railway began in February 2011. It ended in December 2014 but was officially inaugurated for commercial services by President Muhammadu Buhari in July 2016.

It conveys both cargos and passengers to and fro the commercial capital, Kaduna, and the capital city of Nigeria, Abuja, while covering up to 9 stations.

Speed

Abuja – Kaduna rail line covers 100km per hour (62mph), enabling quicker movement of people and goods between Abuja and Kaduna city.

Terminals and stations

It has two major terminals and ten (10) stations listed below.

Abuja Terminal offers;

  • Trains to Idu
  • Trains to Kubwa

Kaduna Terminal offers;

  • Trains to Jere
  • Trains to Rijana
  • Trains to Rigassa

Stations

  • Idu – Kubwa
  • Idu – Jere            
  • Idu – Rijana        
  • Idu – Rigasa        
  • Kubwa – Jere     
  • Kubwa – Rijana
  • Kubwa – Rigasa
  • Jere – Rijana
  • Jere – Rigasa      
  • Rijana – Rigasa

6. Djibouti Train, Ethiopia 

The 6th African fastest train is Djibouti Train, Ethiopia, using the new standard gauge international railway, Addis Ababa – Djibouti Standard Gauge Railway, connecting the new Ethiopia’s capital city to Djibouti.

Opened officially on 1st January 2018 by Hailemariam Desalegn, the prime minister of Ethiopia, the train network operates as the fastest African inter-country train, under the management of the Ethiopian and Djibouti government.

The inauguration ceremonies happened differently in the two countries; 5th October 2016 in Ethiopia and 10th January 2017 in Djibouti, while the operation of the commercial services began just a year after the latter inaugural ceremony.

Speed and line length

Djibouti Train, Ethiopia, operates at 120 kilometers per hour (74mph). It has a line length of 759 km (472 mi), covering 25 stations while carrying a maximum of 15 passengers at once.

5. Madaraka Express

Madaraka Express is the national railway of Kenya functioning under the direction of Kenya Railways Corporation as the fifth fastest train network in Africa. President Uhuru of Kenya launched the diesel train network in July 2017.

The train network runs through the Mombasa–Nairobi Standard Gauge Railway, a heavy railway constructed in 1901, covering 13 destinations between Mombasa, Suswa stations, and the country’s metropolitan areas.

It provides efficient, reliable, safe cargo and passenger transportation between Nairobi, Kenya’s capital city, and Mombasa, East Africa’s largest port.

Madaraka Express’ speed

Madaraka Express, a passenger service train, which carries 1,200 seats per train, operates at 120 kilometers per hour (75 mph) and spends just about 4 hours 30 minutes for the most extended trip across the terminals.

Terminals and stations

The Kenyan train network operates two terminals plus seven other stations.

The Nairobi Terminus, situated at Syokimau, Nairobi, is constructed as two trains with a bridge on top just south of the capital city.

Mombasa Terminus is the second terminal, situated in Miritini, Mombasa, constructed as a central tower and concentric circles depicting ripple in the ocean.

The stations include;

  • Mtito Andei Station, Kenya
  • Voi Station,Kenya
  • Athi River Station, Kenya
  • Emali Station, Kenya
  • Mariakani Station, Kenya 
  • Miasenyi Station, Kenya
  • Kibwezi Station, Kenya

4. SNCFT Trains, Tunisia (Tunisia SNCTF SGR)

SNCTF, the abbreviation of Société Nationale des Chemins de Fer Tunisiens, otherwise the Tunisia Railway company, provides the fastest way to travel around Tunisia by train, making it the 4th fastest train in Africa.

Founded on 27th December 1956, SNCFT operates under the country’s Ministry of Transport and provides both freight and passenger services at a national level.

It conveys 244 travelers in 56 trains outline, 188 trains suburbs, and 68 freight trains (number of movements) per day.

Tunisian Railways speed and networks

SNCTF SGR covers the maximum train speed of 130 kilometers per hour meter gauge and 140kilometer per hour in standard path.

It conveys the maximum axle load ranging amid 16 – 20 tonnes.

The railway network provides the easiest way to travel around Tunis, Sfax, Kasserine, Bizerte, Gabès, El Jem, and Sousse, covering 267 stations and stops.

Tunisian mainline trains’ accommodation

There are three classes of accommodation available in Tunisian trains, and they include; Classe Confort (very similar to 1st class), 1st class (very comfortable), and 2nd class (perfectly adequate).

However, the recent railcars introduced in 2008 have only one class – Express.  

The ‘Classe Confort’ accommodation has more space with the seats arranged 2+1 rather than 2+2 across the width.  

Note: Overnight trains for Tunisian trains have just seats with no sleeping berths.

SNCTF fares

  • Tunis to Sousse in Classe Confort costs 10.9 dinars; 1st class accommodation costs 10.3 dinars; while 2nd class accommodation costs 7.6 dinars.
  • Tunis to Sfax cost 17.9 dinars for Classe Confort, 16.8 dinars for 1st class accommodation, and 12.4 dinars for 2nd class accommodation.
  • Tunis to Gabès cost 26.2 dinars for Classe Confort, 24.6 dinars for 1st class accommodation, and 18.2 dinar 2nd class.
  • Tunis to Monastir – only 2nd class accommodation is available, and the cost is 9.2 dinar

Transport fare is free for children aged 0 – 3 years; 75% of the adult fare for children aged 4 to 9 years; full fare for children aged ten and above.

Note: 10-day return tickets carry a discount of 15% over the cost of two one-way tickets.

Tunisian Railways capacity 

The Tunisian rail network comprises 23 lines with an overall length of 2167 km, including the following:

  • 471 kilometers standard gauge lines (1437 mm)
  • 1688 kilometers of meter gauge lines (1000 mm), with 65 km electrified
  • 8 kilometers of lines mixed gauge (standard and metric) 

3. SNTF Trains, SGR Alger, Algeria

SNTF Trains, Algeria is the third-fastest train in Africa, operating as a state-owned train company, either on electricity or diesel.

Société Nationale des Transports Ferroviaires, as the French name implies in full, resumed operating on 31st March 1976 in Algiers, Algeria serving the Algiers, Morocco, and Tunisia for the conveyance of loads and passengers across the countries.

Operating speed 

SNTF Trains, Algeria, operates at the maximum speed of 160kilometers per hour (99mph).  

Subsidiaries

It has a network of subsidiary trains offering rail transport, passenger services, cargo carriage, and more.

The subsidiaries include Rail Express, RailLINK, RailPUB, Restaurail, Rail Electr, STG, Infrarail, RailLOgistic, Rail Télecom, Safei, STPE, STIM, and Estel Rail.

2. Gautrain Commuter, South Africa

Gautrain Commuter, South Africa, is a full-service 50-mile (80-kilometre) commuter rail system operating since 8th June 2011, connecting cities like Pretoria, Ekurhuleni, Johannesburg, and Tambo International Airport. 

It is the second-fastest train in Africa, after TVG Maroc, Morocco.

Bombardier Electrified train is the leading manufacturer of the commuter rail system operating in Gauteng, South Africa, for cargo and passenger commercial carriage.

It provides minibus services, buses, and shuttles, in addition to the train service taking just 35 minutes to travel from Pretoria, Tshwane to Park Station, Johannesburg.

Top speed and length system

Gautrain commuter or Gautrain rapid rail link, operated by Bombela Operating Company, runs 160km per hour (99mph), covering ten stations.

On the other hand, the length system of the train measures 80 km, which is equivalent to 50 miles.

Stations 

Gautrain has a total of ten (10) stations in operation, and they are;

  • Sandton – underground
  • Rosebank – underground
  • Park Station – underground
  • Hatfield – at grade
  • Pretoria – at grade
  • Midrand – at grade
  • Marlboro – at grade
  • Rhodesfield – elevated
  • Centurion – elevated
  • O.R. Tambo International Airport – elevated

1. TVG Maroc, Morocco

TVG Maroc, Morocco is the first-high speed and fastest train in Africa, providing on-time and hassle-free rail passenger services that pledge to meet every client’s expectation. 

The designation of this train company is to comfortably transport passengers and cargo across Morocco from Tangier to Fez, Rabat, Casablanca, and Marrakech.

Launched by the Moroccan king and the French president, TVG Maroc began its commercial services in November 2018, under the management of ONCF – Morocco’s national railway operator.

Maximum speed

TVG Maroc, Morocco, covers the maximum speed of 320 kilometers per hour (200mph), making it the highest speed train on the continent.

The train is not the most luxurious in Africa, but it has the highest travel speed compared to others. 

It provides the most rapid transportation services across Morocco’s urban cities, with the highest speed, ranking it as no.1 among the African fastest trains.

African Railway System under Construction

Tanzania Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) is a railway system project in Africa still under construction. 

The Tanzania and Zambia Railway Authority (TAZARA), otherwise Tanzam Railway, or Uhuru Railway is an operating railway system in Africa that links Tanzania and Zambia neighboring countries.

The neighboring countries include Uganda and Rwanda, to DR Congo and Burundi, covering the routes and stations across Kapiri Mposhi, Mbeya, and port of Dar es Salaam.

African Rail System at a Glance

At present, the rail networks in Africa extend 65,000 kilometers, of which most of them pledge to speed up your travels across the cities on the continent.

South Africa accounts for 40.7% of the African train network; North Africa 23.8 %, while the Sub-Saharan African region accounts for 35.5 percent, but the fastest trains scatter in the different areas.

Which is the fastest train in Africa?

TVG Maroc, Morocco is the fastest train in Africa on our list. However, the inauguration of Al-Boraq Morocco on 15th November 2018 by the King Mohammed VI of Morocco gave it a name as the fastest-speed train in Africa. 

Al-Boraq is a 323-kilometer-long high-speed rail service operated by ONCF at 320 km/h (200 mph) between Casablanca and Tangier.

What are the top 10 fastest trains in the world?

The top ten (10) fastest trains worldwide counting down from the 10th to the 1st include;

10. Thalys: 186 mph

9. Eurostar e320 and TGV: 200 mph

8. Thalys: 186 mph

7. Eurostar e320 and TGV: 200 mph

6. Korail KTX: 205 mph

5. Deutsche Bahn ICE: 205 mph

4. Haramain Western Railway: 217 mph

3. Renfe AVE: 217 mph

2. The Italo and Frecciarossa: 220 mph

1. Shinkansen H5 and E5: 224 mph

Which country has the best railway system in Africa?

Tanzania has the best railway system in Africa, while South Africa tops the list of the largest African rail network measuring around 22,051 km.

Is there a high-speed train in Africa?

Yes, the new intercity TGV pioneers Africa’s first high-speed train link, constructed by Alstom, a French engineering company, and unveiled in Morocco in 2018.

Summary

As a form of transportation, the train came into Africa during the colonial era, primarily for the aim of raw materials, bulky, heavy goods, and labor quickly and economically over a long distance.

However, today, it has become a sensible choice for African traders and travelers due to its efficiency, cost-effectiveness, and safeness.

And the good news is that all the train systems listed in this article boast the fastest travel means across the cities in Africa at very convenient and affordable rates.

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