Egypt's transportation ministry aims to implement a EGP 3 billion project to equip trains with automated systems for making emergency stops without driver intervention, Transport Minister Hesham Arafat said on Monday.
Arafat announced the plan during a transport committee meeting in parliament to discuss Friday's train collision in Alexandria that killed at least 41 people and injured 179.
On Friday afternoon, a train travelling from Cairo to Alexandria crashed into the rear of another train en route to Alexandria from Port Said. The stationary train was at Khorshid station when the crash occurred.
On Saturday, Arafat said the collision was caused by the Egyptian railway's manual-operation system and poorly developed infrastructure.
During Monday's meeting, committee head Sa'id Ta'ima heavily criticized the minister, describing the collision as "an act of murder, not just neglect."
Arafat said he would not discuss the details or causes of the collision because the matter is still under investigation. However, he said the ministry is working to reduce reliance on the "human element", which he said is a key factor in train accidents.
Arafat said that Egypt's railway infrastructure has not been upgraded since the 1960s, and upgrading it was a "big responsibility".
"The ministry aims to develop 560 train crossings at a cost of EGP 2 billion, and a project to electrify railway signals costing EGP 2.4 billion," he said during Monday's meeting.
A total of EGP 45 billion will be spent on projects to develop Egypt's railway system in the coming years, he said, adding that the funding depended on investment from foreign companies.
On Monday, Egypt appointed Sayed Ibrahim Mohamed Salam as interim chief of the National Railway Authority, one day after the resignation of the authority's director after the deadly collision.
Egyptians have long complained that successive governments have failed to develop the country’s dilapidated transport network and guarantee basic railway safety standards.
Several deadly railway crashes have taken place in Egypt over the years. In 2012, a train ploughed into a school bus south of Cairo, killing 50 people, mostly children. The country's worst train disaster took place in 2002, when a fire swept through a passenger train, killing some 360 people.