Senegal’s new commuter train makes first journey from capital Dakar

The Regional Express will connect Dakar with
Diamniadio, an industrial city being built on a dusty plain about 40 kilometres
(25 miles) away.

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

The projects have burnished Senegal’s image as
one of Africa’s fastest-growing economies. And the air-conditioned trains are
expected to reduce pollution in Dakar, where banged-up old buses and taxis hurl
clouds of black smoke as they inch towards the capital each morning.

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

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

About 115,000 passengers are expected to
commute daily on the train between Dakar and Diamniadio, the government said.
Further extensions will connect the main airport and eventually other cities
and towns in the coming years.

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