Dakar: the first African TER enters service

VIDEO – We attended the final preparations for the entry into service at the start of 2022 of the Dakar TER, which will transport 115,000 people per day. Seven years of work to relieve congestion in a capital with incredible traffic jams.

It is the story of a suburban train which responded to the pretty name of Little blue train. Created in 1987, it served the entire western outskirts of Dakar, transporting up to 20,000 people per day between the capital and Rufisque. It ran on the old metric tracks that linked this city to Bamako, a 27 km double track where trains were towed by diesel locomotives. Operated by the Senegalese state, the service was completely stopped in 2020, the PTB company transforming into GTS – Grands Trains du Sénégal. But, to resolve the apoplectic traffic jams in Dakar, the State has resolved to launch a call for tenders to reopen the railway which has proven to be the only solution to relieve the current A1 motorway.

Indeed, Dakar is located on a peninsula. Its agglomeration, with more than three million inhabitants, welcomes around 100,000 additional residents each year. The traffic jams there are immeasurable and unpredictable. In 2014, the Senegalese State therefore launched the first studies and the works and roads were carried out to build a double track with a gauge of 1.435m, according to the standard of 60% of railway tracks. in the world, while keeping a third rail with a gauge of one meter, to allow freight traffic on the old network.

In certain places, the State had to proceed with liberalizations of right-of-way to clear the passage and allow this modern and electrified train to run. Throughout its journey, the route has been protected by fences and walls to prevent incursions by animals and people. From 2017 the construction of the track started. It was entrusted to the Franco-Turkish-Senegalese consortium which brings together Eiffage, Yapi Merkezi and the Compagnie Sahélienne d’Entreprises (CSE). The systems were designed and built by Engie and Thales, providing this train with ERTMS2 on-board signaling that Europe is just starting to install on its suburban trains. The 15 Coradia Régiolis trainsets comprising four cars were ordered from Alstom, which manufactured them in Reichshoffen in Alsace. These cars were then separated from each other to be transported by boat and then by exceptional convoy, to the Colobane maintenance center where they were again assembled by local Alstom teams. “Only seven years will have elapsed between the political decision and the commissioning, which is exceptional for an achievement of this magnitude.»Explains Stéphane Volant, President of Seter, insisting on«the quality of French railway know-how which is recognized worldwide,“.

Teams of drivers, passenger service agents, maintainers – more than 950 employees have been recruited and trained by SETER – the Dakar TER Exploitation Company – which will operate the TER. A 100% subsidiary of SNCF, SETER should pass into the bosom of Kéolis in 2022. “ We have had success rates, higher than those we know in France, which have made possible the transfer of know-how faster than initially envisaged. »Says Frédéric Bardenet, CEO of SETER.

Dakar station built in 1914 renovated by Eiffage SETER

This train, which will be able to peak at 160km / h, will run 10 minutes during the week, and 15 to 20 minutes at weekends. To avoid being taxed with “rich train»As in 2010 with the Gautrain in South Africa, the price of one-way tickets will be modulated in three zones depending on the distance and to cover the 36 km of this first section from end to end, it will cost around 2 euros. . The second phase of the section, which is to link Diamniadio to the new airport, should open at the end of 2023 / early 2024 with an additional 19 km of track. It will allow you to reach the city center in less than an hour. This route will serve 14 stations including the superb Dakar station, built in 1914, and which was completely boned by Eiffage to retain its astonishing metal structure which no longer supported the weight of the frame, as well as the new station with the very futuristic appearance of Diamniadio …


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