El Ferdan Bridge over the Suez Canal
Our Specialist Brands:
Bringing the world's longest swing bridge back into use
Reconnecting a record-breaking bridge across the Suez Canal
The El Ferdan Bridge in Egypt is a critical transportation link, letting trains and vehicles cross one of the busiest shipping waterways in the world – the Suez Canal. However, since 2015, it has been out of service.
The expansion of the canal meant that the longest swing bridge in the world could no longer function – cutting off the only rail connection to the Sinai Peninsula and between Egypt and the Middle East, and breaking the connection between Africa and Asia.
To bring this bridge back into use, Maffeis Engineering, one of Sidara’s engineering specialists is designing a new bridge to accommodate a double track railway that will reconnect the El-Ismailia and El Kantara East stations across the canal. This is an extremely complex challenge, both in terms of design and execution. However, once finished, it will have significant implications for the region’s connectivity, economic activity and sustainable transport options.
Accommodating uncertainty in design and construction
The new bridge is a twin of the existing one, which was originally designed in 2000 for a single train line. The Maffeis team needed to preserve the architectural shape of the existing bridge while making the overall structure suitable for a double train line.
Swing bridges have many complex
challenges both in design and in construction. They must achieve the correct balance
during rotation, be designed to prevent excessive stress on bridge components, and
ensure that structural integrity of the full load is supported while rotating.
Extreme precision with regards to alignment when closing and opening and ensuring there is space for clearance during movement is critical.
To create the optimal design our team developed a data model, integrated with a visual representation of the bridge’s functioning. This served to pre-empt any issues in its long-term operation, such as material fatigue and deformation over time.
To anticipate challenges during the construction phase, the team also used modelling to design a method sequence that would carry out the process successfully.
When completed, the bridge should move into position and dock successfully within 18 minutes and the railway journey over the bridge is around three minutes – a notable improvement on the ferry that takes 30 minutes for a round trip.
Augmented mobility and economic development
The Sinai Peninsula is one of Egypt’s more underprivileged regions. The re-established rail link will provide a more cost-effective and environmentally friendly alternative to long distance car travel, helping to promote more local commerce and a stronger regional economy.
On a wider scale, the reactivated bridge will enhance transportation links in the region and connect all Arab countries together – catalyzing agricultural and industrial development by providing an alternative for the more sustainable movement of goods over long distances.
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