Egypt allocates 14 billion dollars to develop its railway network
CAIRO: Egypt has allocated 225 billion Egyptian pounds ($14.36 billion) to develop its railway network and prevent the recurrence of accidents such as the collision of two trains in Upper Egypt on Friday.
Egyptian Transport Minister Kamel Al-Wazir said he had held a meeting with officials from Egypt’s National Railway Authority to draw up an accident prevention plan, indicating that the new funds were being allocated to the development of the current rail network.
Al-Wazir explained in televised statements that the train driver was at fault, stressing that the prosecution was investigating the incident.
“We are working on setting up a rail network at the highest level. We have a problem with the human element on the railways and we are working to secure it at the highest level,” he said.
Egypt’s public prosecutor has ordered an investigation into the incident, which happened near the town of Tahta, about 365 km from the capital.
Egyptian presidential spokesman Bassam Radi confirmed that President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi had ordered officials to take action to prevent such incidents from happening again.
He said the president will be careful not to disrupt the development of the railway network as it supports a large number of citizens, carrying around one million passengers daily.
Egypt has one of the largest and oldest railways in the region, and Egyptians have long complained that governments have failed to enforce basic safety measures.
In an earlier press conference on the Sohag train collision, Al-Wazir said the trains operated using electronic safety means, which caused trips and delays about 25% of the time.
The Minister explained that the necessary development works would require the complete closure of the railway until 2022 for the main lines and until 2024 for the other lines, adding that this had been rejected by all parties as it would disrupt the daily passenger movements.
He said there were three main lines with an area of about 2,000 km: Cairo – Aswan, Cairo – Alexandria and Cairo – Benha Port Said.
“Work is underway to develop signaling on the railway tracks. We are working on the development of the main railways using specialized international and Egyptian companies, and their development will be completed on June 30, 2022, and these lines will be completely safe, without the intervention of the human factor,” the minister said.
The minister added that the second phase of the development project, which will end in 2024, included 260 tractors, 1,000 freight vehicles and 200 sleeping vehicles, in addition to the development of the remaining 8,000 km of railway lines, which were suburban lines, and other level crossings and stations.
An express train will enter service in mid-2024 and will help reduce demand on existing lines, especially Upper Egypt lines.