Egypt has allocated $14.36bn (EGP225bn) for the development of its railway network and to avert rail accidents such as the collision of two trains in the Sohag governorate last Friday, which killed at least 32 people and injured 165.
In a meeting with the Egyptian National Railways Authority officials, Egyptian Transport Minister Kamel Al-Wazir announced the allocation of the funds.
Al-Wazir was quoted by Arab News as saying: “We are working to establish a train 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.”
Meanwhile, authorities are investigating the Sohar train collision that occurred near the city of Tahta.
Egypt is claimed to have one of the oldest railways in the Middle Eastern region. However, Egyptians often raise concerns that governments failed to impose important safety standards, reported the publication.
Earlier in a press conference on the Sohag train collision, Al-Wazir had said that the trains functioned by leveraging electronic safety, thereby resulting in trips and interruptions of about 25% of the time.
The minister said that the essential development work would need the closure of three main lines, notably Cairo to Aswan; Cairo to Alexandria; and Cairo to Benha Port Said, until next year, as well as until 2024 for other lines.
However, this proposal has been rejected given that it will interrupt the daily commute of the passengers.
Al-Wazir added: “Work is underway to develop signals on the railway lines. We are working on developing the main railways using specialised international and Egyptian companies, and their development will be completed on 30 June 2022, and these lines will be completely safe, without the intervention of the human factor.”
The minister revealed that the development project’s second phase will conclude in 2024.
This phase will see the remaining 8,000km of suburban lines, as well as the other crossings and stations being developed.
In mid-2024, an express train will also be introduced to offset the declining demand on the current lines.
Earlier this month, the World Bank approved a $440m loan to support Egypt’s initiatives to upgrade the safety and service quality of its railways.