MC's transport systems business has a long history which started in Cairo, Egypt, back in the 1960s. Since the very first road-based tram car was delivered, MC has delivered a total of 1,500 train or tram cars. For the Cairo Metro, with daily passengers of 2.2 million from a city with a population of 17 million, MC has delivered about 500 rail cars since 1993, each of which is of a high-quality and Japanese-made, with strong durability and simple to maintain.
Initially, French manufacturers had a monopoly on the rail market in Cairo. However, the Japanese-made rail cars gained favor because of the low rate of faults and the ease of maintenance even when exposed to the severity of Egypt's hot and dusty environment. Moreover, by making continuous efforts, including immediately responding to any problems that may occur, MC was able to earn the trust of the government and the customer. Today, Japanese-made rolling stock delivered by MC dominates the Cairo Metro.
The Cairo Metro, whose construction commenced in 1982, was the first subway line in the Africa and Middle-East region. In 1987, the Cairo Metro started operations on the first 4.5 kilometers of track. From the 1990s, however, as Cairo's urban environment deteriorated sharply due to chronic traffic congestion and air pollution as a result of a population explosion in the city, it became an urgent task to further extend the system.With this as backdrop, MC delivered the first 60 Japanese-made rail cars in 1993. Then, in 1996, MC established a maintenance company jointly with two Japanese manufacturers and one local company. The new maintenance company has provided various types of support to the Cairo Metro: transferring a wealth of technology and knowhow relating to maintenance and inspection including analysis of rail car malfunctions, maintenance methods and business methods to procure parts, training and developing local competent staff. Today, Cairo Metro enjoys the reputation of being “Egypt’s most valued public-sector enterprise,” and is cherished by Cairo’s citizens as a “Fourth Pyramid.”
Photos by The Kinki Sharyo Co., Ltd.
With this proven track record, in August 2010, MC together with The Kinki Sharyo Co., Ltd. and Toshiba Corporation formed a consortium and received a new order for rolling stock. The new order of 88 rail cars covered additional train sets for Line 2 which was already operational and new train sets for Line 3, Phase 2 that was under construction to provide access between the city and the Cairo International Airport. This order was a follow-on from 56 cars for Line 3, Phase 1, in 2007
“For the recent order of 88 rail cars, negotiations started in 2008 and it took two and a half years before the order was finalized. Although the order process took time, it was successfully brought to a conclusion by MC fulfilling its role as a general trading company, acting as a coordinator and managing the various relationships between the government, the customer, the consortium partners and other related parties, in order to lead efforts and overcome challenges. The trust placed in the state-of-the-art technologies of the Japanese-made rail cars and strong reputation for reliability earned in the area of maintenance led to these new contracts.”
The rail cars will have lower power consumption so as to be more environmentally friendly. In addition they have been designed to be more comfortable by equipping them with air-conditioning for the first time. Moreover, the rounder shape of the new rail car design reflects contemporary trends.
The rolling stock market is undergoing tremendous change with South Korean and Chinese manufacturers rapidly becoming more prices competitive due to the effect of the strong yen. As rolling stock technology evolves, it will be necessary in the future for MC to evolve its functions and role as a trading company.While continuing to value its trusted relationship with the people of Egypt, MC should utilize ingenuity and creativity to further build on the bonds of trust that have been built thus far, instead of resting on its laurels. The approach of working together with the region and the customer to overcome challenges is what leads to new business. MC aims to constantly re-evaluate its role and function and continue to build its solid track record with new achievements.
Contents Produced in Cooperation with Nikkei Business Online Special / Cross Architects, Inc.