Saturday, May 16, 2020

El Firdan Railway Bridge - A Bridge Not Far Enough

In the context of railway infrastructure, "Transcontinental" typically refers to the original Transcontinental Railroad, particularly in the United States. But very few pieces of infrastructure can truly be considered transcontinental. 

One that can be considered is Egypt's El Ferdan Railway Bridge (Google Maps), which is a dual swing bridge that spans the Suez Canal, connecting Africa with Asia. The bridge opened in 2001, and is (or was) the longest swing bridge in the world. Between 2001-2015, it served the Egyptian National Railway

Railway bridges over the Suez Canal have had a tendency to not last very long, as it was the fifth bridge over the Suez Canal built in that location. 

The first bridge over the Suez was built in April 1918 for the Sinai Military Railway, but removed after World War I as it was a hindrance to shipping. 

A swing bridge built in 1942 was removed in 1947 after being damaged by a steamship. 

A dual swing bridge replaced it in 1954, but was closed in 1956 after the Suez Crisis. 

It was replaced in 1963, only to be destroyed in 1967 during the Six-Day War with Israel. 


Image credit: H Nawara, Wikipedia Commons


While this bridge has had the longest life of any railway bridge in the vicinity, it has not operated since 2015. The Suez Canal was expanded to include a second shipping line, causing the rail line that used the bridge to end at a dead end. A new railway tunnel is planned to connect the railway east of the Suez to the rest of Egypt's railway network, rendering the El Ferdan Railway bridge obsolete. 

Al Firdan area, with the out-of-service right of way. The Maroon color is for the African continent, while the Yellow is for Asia.


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