Egypt's parliament approved on Sunday a financing program worth 290 million euros provided by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) to pay for upgrades and fleet expansion of the country's national railway system, state-owned MENA news agency reported.
According to MENA, the program's approval was discussed by the House during its general assembly following a report presented by its transportation and economic affairs committees.
The deal, originally signed in June 2017, allocates the financing to Egyptian National Railways (ENR) to be used for the acquisition of up to 100 new diesel locomotives.
During Sunday's assembly, Parliament Speaker Ali Abdel-Aal said that "loans were the bitter medicine for the building up of the economy," adding that the agreement signed between Egypt and the EBRD was not as bitter as MPs initially perceived.
Egypt signed the deal with the European bank last June in an attempt to boost the ailing railway system.
Some 300 million Egyptian riders use trains annually. In the last two decades, mass-casualty train accidents became common in Egypt. Thousands of passengers have been killed or injured in fatal accidents caused by derailment of outdated carriages, fires due to poor industrial safeguards, malfunctions, or human error at manually operated signal-crossings. The government has also started to digitalise the archaic signal-crossing system, which has been the cause of many deadly collisions.
According to a statement by the EBRD, the bank will finance the acquisition of up to 100 new diesel locomotives under a supply-and-maintenance contract outsourced to the private sector in accordance with the EBRD’s procurement policy.
The EBRD will also provide "technical assistance support to ENR to develop and implement a comprehensive freight reform programme and a commercialisation plan for the freight sector."
Egypt is a founding member of the EBRD and has been receiving funding since 2012, with the bank investing 2.3 billion euros in 47 projects in the country to date.
Egypt has recently signed various agreements and MOUs with a number of countries, including Hungary, Romania and china, to modernize its train carriages fleet and safety procedured.