Crowded Algiers getting Metro, at long last

AP News
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Posted: Oct 11, 2011 3:55 PM
Crowded Algiers getting Metro, at long last

The Algerian capital, congested with cars and buses, is finally getting an underground subway system _ three decades after the first tunnel was dug.

The single 9.5-kilometer (6-mile) line is slated to start operating its 11 trains on Nov. 1 _ the anniversary of the start of the seven-year-long war of independence with France, officials announced Tuesday.

Despite diplomatic tensions that persist between Paris and Algiers, the former colonial ruler will have a big hand in the Algiers Metro. It is to be run by a subsidiary of RATP, the authority of the widely envied Paris Metro, called RATP-Al-Djazair.

Djamel Boumhane, a police official involved in the Metro's security, said 400 police specially trained in France will be on duty for the system, which is equipped with 244 video cameras and explosives detectors.

Algeria is on constant alert to head off attacks by al-Qaida-affiliate based in Algeria, al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb. However, the capital has been spared such violence for several years.

The Metro, to operate from 5 a.m. to 11 p.m., is expected to transport some 25,000 people per hour each way during high traffic hours.

A Metro entrance has long greeted passersby in the crowded center of Algiers, but the Metro itself was a phantom. Bureaucracy and then a deadly Islamist insurgency put the project on hold _ for three decades.