ⓘ Addis Ababa Light Rail


ⓘ Addis Ababa Light Rail

Addis Ababa Light Rail is a light rail transportation system in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. It is the first light rail and rapid transit in eastern and sub-saharan Africa.

A 17-kilometre 11 mi line running from the city centre to industrial areas in the south of the city opened on 20 September 2015, inaugurated by Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn. Service began on 9 November 2015 for the second line west-east. The total length of both lines is 31.6 kilometres 19.6 mi, with 39 stations. Trains are expected to be able to reach maximum speeds of 70 km/h 43 mph.

The railway was contracted by the China Railway Group Limited. The Ethiopian Railways Corporation began construction of the double track electrified light rail transit project in December 2011 after securing funds from the Export-Import Bank of China. Trial operations were begun on 1 February 2015, with several months of testing following that. It is operated by the Shenzhen Metro Group.


1. Overview

Of the two line rail lines, the east-west line extends 17.4 kilometres 10.8 mi, stretching from Ayat Village to Torhailoch, and passing through Megenagna, Meskel Square, Legehar and Mexico Square. The north-south line, which is 16.9 kilometres 10.5 mi in length, passes through Menelik II Square, Merkato, Lideta, Legehar, Meskel Square, Gotera and Kaliti. However, two lines have a common track of about 2.7 km. The common track is the elevated section which runs east to west across the southern edge of the CBD from Meskel Square to Mexico Square, and onwards to Lideta. Trains on the north south line are blue and white, whilst on the east west line they are green and white. The Fares cost 2-6 Ethiopian birr. Tickets are bought at orange coloured kiosks next to each station.

The final cost to build the railway was US$475m, with construction taking three years. The Addis Ababa Light Rail was originally to have a total of 41 stations on its two lines, and each train was planned have a capacity to carry 286 passengers. This will enable the light rail transit to provide a transportation service to 15.000 passengers per hour per direction PPHPD and 60.000 in all four directions. The railway lines have their own dedicated power grid.

According to CREC the system carried on average 113.500 daily passengers in January 2016 with 153.000 passengers as highest passenger load during a single day. Service frequency was 10 minutes during peak hours on both lines and 20 minutes during off-peak hours. On average there were 94 train rotations on the Blue line 3.177.2 vehicle-kilometres and 93 rotations on the Green line 3.236.4 vehicle-kilometres.


2. Future expansion

There are future plans for extensions in all four directions. According to Getachew Betru, CEO of Ethiopian Railways Corporation, the Ethiopian government indicated that any new line built should be completely grade-separated. Apart from extending the existing lines, two new lines are under consideration by the Ethiopian government. The first one will start at St. Georges Cathedral, pass along Mexico Square to the African Union Headquarters and will terminate at Lebu, connecting to the new national rail network. The second line will start at Megenagna Roundabout and passes via Bole Airport, Wello Sefer area, Saris market area and Jommo area and terminates at Lebu.


3. Lines

Blue Line

  • The 16.9-kilometre 10.5 mi Blue Line runs south from Menelik Square to Kaliti with 22 stops including the common section. There are three planned stops.
  • Open 20 September 2015.

Common section

  • The 2.7-kilometre 1.7 mi common section runs from St. Lideta to Meskel Square, with 5 stops.
  • Open 20 September 2015.

Green Line

  • Open 9 November 2015.
  • The 17.4-kilometre 10.8 mi Green Line runs east from Ayat to Tor Hailoch, with 23 stops including the common section. There are five planned stops.