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. (That didn't seem to work out very well, however.)

A new railway tunnel was planned to connect the railway east of the Suez to the rest of Egypt's railway network, which would have rendered the El Firdan Railway bridge obsolete. 

Al Firdan area, with the out-of-service right of way.

However, more recently, it has been decided the El Firdan Railway Bridge will be reactivated and expanded, as opposed to the initial plan of building a tunnel. A second bridge was constructed in 2021 over the second lane of the Suez Canal, and a second track will be built over the existing bridge, meaning the bridge will one day serve rail traffic again.

Thanks as always for reading!


  1. I only just learned about this bridge today. Interestingly, if you look at Google Maps, you can see that they appear to be constructing a similar bridge across the new canal. I can't find any articles or photographs of this new bridge, though.

    It does seem a strange choice to build a swing bridge across a busy shipping channel as recently as 2001. I guess the new canal wasn't on the cards then, but it can't have been an important or busy railway line to be cut off much of the time as ships pass.


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