Libya is optimistic that the new standard gauge line currently under construction from Benghazi to the country’s western border at Rass Ajder will be extended eventually to connect with Société Nationale des Chemins de Fer Tunisiens (SNCFT – the Tunisian National Railways). This would entail building some 170km of route inside Tunisia to reach the present railhead at Gabes. Unfortunately the existing 422km line from Gabes to the capital – Tunis – is metre gauge, so through services will not be possible. Some of the 268km Tunis-Sfax section has been realigned and the 3-hour expresses are reputedly the fastest metre gauge trains in the world.
On Libya’s east, a 350km extension of the new standard gauge line is planned to Tobruk from Benghazi. Beyond Tobruk, the formation of a long abandoned (World War II) standard gauge railway extends some 140km to Egypt’s western border at El Soloum, endpoint of a 560km line from Cairo.