Transport system shines at Africa Cup

How did Egypt cope in safely and efficiently transporting the influx of fans to recent Africa Cup of Nations football matches in cities across the country?

Along with the teams that competed in Egypt in this year’s Africa Cup of Nations soccer tournament came a massive influx of fans who joined local people going about their daily work – putting a big strain on the country’s public transport nodes.

The Africa Cup – the continent’s premier soccer event – featured 24 teams and drew an estimated 50 000 visitors to the cities in which matches took place.

Transport infrastructure in Cairo, particularly, was placed under pressure, with the city’s Metro 3 line, which served the main stadium, being the worst hit. However, thanks to forward planning and improved resources designed to alleviate congestion, trains ran on time, playing a crucial role in keeping the tournament moving.

In fact, three additional stations were put into service ahead of the first match, specifically to aid increased demand from fans and citizens alike. And, while looking after fans was an obvious priority for the duration of the football tournament, citizens, too, appreciated the convenient, easy-to-use and practical solutions that were put in place to keep everyone moving freely.

That’s where technology from transportation specialist Thales was perceived to shine. With a longstanding record of providing fully integrated solutions for Cairo’s Metro owner, the National Authority for Tunnels (NAT), the company’s services were initially engaged way back in 1981, when the first Metro line was introduced.

Since then, Thales has become the NAT’s partner of choice for the supply of both Revenue Collection Systems (RCS) and Integrated Communications and Security systems (ICS) for all of Cairo’s Metro lines.

The expertise – which has helped to support an improved standard of urban services for Egypt – was leveraged so that all football fans and citizens were able to get to their destinations safely and smoothly.

Back in 2016, Thales was awarded a tender for the supply of 850 gates for Cairo Metro Lines 1 and 2 – testament to the company’s commitment to supporting its Egyptian customer.

With a doubling of the number of passengers using the lines during the Africa Cup period, Thales made provision to protect safety, while implementing solutions designed to drive efficiency – an essential ingredient to ensure that spectators could get to venues on time.

“It was an exciting time,” says Sherif Barakat, Thales’ country director for Egypt. “Development of new infrastructure and procedures was powered by some of the world’s foremost technology and expertise. And that meant a great experience for football fans – and lasting value for Egypt’s citizens.”

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