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sino-african friendship witnessed in egypt under the belt & road initiative

the 10th of ramadan railway in egypt is a key project of sino-egypt cooperation under the "belt & road" initiative. as the signaling system integrator of this project, casco is responsible for providing the cbtc signaling system solution. this is also the first rail transit line in egypt that adopts the cbtc signaling system. wu yifei, as the signaling system installation manager of this project, was dispatched to egypt to supervise the installation of the signaling system and the training of operators.

in china, wu yifei had accumulated abundant experience in cbtc signaling system installation, and was thus considered a "veteran", as he had participated in the installation and commissioning of the signaling systems of shenzhen metro lines 2 and 5, xiamen metro lines 1 and 2, wuhan metro line 2 and shanghai driverless metro line 15. however, in terms of overseas work experience, he was still a "rookie". this was a small regret, but he did not expect the opportunity to make up for the regret came so soon.



overcoming the english obstacle to become the client's "habibi"


on february 27, 2021, not long after the chinese new year, wu yifei embarked on a flight to cairo to serve the first overseas project in his career. with the expectation of the unknown, he was a bit excited and imagined what kind of special and wonderful time would be waiting for him in a foreign country.

the plane landed. when he finally sat down in the co-working area of the project in cairo and looked around at all the strange foreign faces with various english accents, he finally felt that everything was quite different from his imagination.



wu yifei (middle) and colleagues from casco's egypt project


since the 10th of ramadan railway connects cairo and the new capital, it is an important transportation supporting project for egypt to build the "eastern economic corridor". therefore the client paid high attention to the project, set up a transnational working coalition covering asia, africa and europe, and specially hired an internationally renowned supervisor company to supervise every aspect of the work of the chinese side. "the client is egyptian, the operator is french, and the supervisor is a global company, with staff from different countries. in this project camp, it was like being in a miniature un. "wu yifei recalled with a smile that working in such an environment required not only professional excellence, but also coordination and communication with many parties, which was the basis for carrying out work. english became his first test.

"i thought there would be dedicated translators on site to help me with communication, but i didn't expect that i would have to rely on myself in oral and written communication. "wu yifei said that the efficiency of communication was still affected at the beginning. written documents sometimes had to be revised repeatedly, and there were always be misunderstandings in meetings and communication. "we desperately studied english, and never allowed the communication efficiency to affect the progress of work."

soon, wu yifei was not only able to skillfully communicate with foreign teams, but also became a social expert in the joint working group. in addition to his own signaling system installation work, he also enthusiastically helped colleagues of other project teams to communicate with the foreign parties. the client and supervisor also had full trust in this chinese representative, and always called him "my best friend" or "habibi" (my love in arabic) with a smile when they saw him.



bridging cognitive gap and winning client’s trust with sincerity


the 10th of ramadan railway is the first line in egypt to adopt the cbtc signaling system, so that there was a gap in the understanding of the cbtc signaling system between the egyptian client and the casco team, which in turn affected the installation and commissioning of the signaling system.

"due to the lack of understanding of cbtc, the client was empirical at first. "speaking of this, wu yifei shared a short story: “at one time, the track was only halfway laid, and the welding was not completed, but the client asked us to install the axle counter. it will affect the safe operation, so we spent a lot of time explaining. finally we gained mutual understanding and reached a consensus with the client. "

wu yifei said: “these are the principles that casco always adheres to from the perspective of safety. under the premise of not compromising safety, we will try our best to respect and meet customer needs. it is acceptable even if some requirements are unnecessary from the professional point of view, or we need to spend a lot of energy to adjust the scheme. however, when it comes to system safety, we must adhere to the principle, which can also help clients establish and enhance safety awareness."

thereafter, to help the client quickly bridge the cognitive gap, wu yifei was invited to organize several training sessions for the client, introducing in detail the outline of installation and commissioning and related external constraints; and communicated with the client about the project's progress through weekly project meetings to answer questions and solve problems. "soon, those unfavorable factors gradually disappeared, less questions were received from the client and the supervisor, and we gained the trust of our client with unremitting efforts, " wu yifei said.



measuring the desert lifeline step by step


more than 90% of the 10th of ramadan railway is located on the ground, and most area along the route is desert gobi. this means that almost all of the preliminary equipment installation work had to be carried out outdoors. in addition to the special climate of egypt such as heat, dryness, and large temperature difference between day and night, whether the equipment installation was effectively safeguarded in terms of waterproof, dustproof and anti-electromagnetic interference had to be also considered. all of these brought great challenges to the signaling system installation work.

before the installation of the equipment, the first step was to carry out the track survey. since most of the tracks are in the desert, wu yifei and his colleagues often had to go to the site on foot. from may 2021, the installation engineers had to switch to the "marching" mode, carrying backpacks, leaving early and returning late, facing the scorching sun, wind and sand, walking along the 70 km-long railway again and again... from the track survey to installation and commissioning, they had walked over the whole route at least 5 times.





installation and track survey


as wu yifei recalled, the longest signaling section is 8 km long, and the entire journey route is in no man's land. a round-trip of survey, with a total length of 16km, needed to be completed within one day. "the highest temperature that day was 45°c. we set off at 6 am in the morning, and did not return until 3 pm in the afternoon. in order to save time, we didn't have lunch. "wu yifei said that when conducting the track survey, they need to repeatedly squat down and get up, pull the rope, make marks, and stop and on. when approaching the end, several colleagues' feet were swollen.



a colleague with a foot injury was supported by others to finish the last 3 km


just under such conditions, wu yifei and his colleagues measured this new desert lifeline with their feet step by step, day by day.

"this is casco's first full signaling system integration project in egypt, and also my first overseas project. it's my honor to be part of it." wu yifei said with a smile.

moreover, through this project, wu yifei deeply felt the significant changes brought about by the sino-egyptian “belt & road” cooperation in egypt, and the further sublimation of sino-africa friendship. if the sino-egyptian "belt & road" cooperation is a magnificent painting, then the 10th of ramadan railway is like a wonderful brush on it, rendering the common expectations of both sides for the future.

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