Shortage of railway tickets frustrates Egyptians ahead of Eid holiday

Marina Barsoum , Monday 21 Sep 2015

Thirty extra trains have been provided by Egypt’s railway authority for travelers during the Eid holiday period this year

Ramsis railway station in Cairo
Ramsis railway station in Cairo (Al-Ahram)

Long queues at Ramsis railway station in Cairo are witnessed these days, like every year when Eid Al-Adha is close as Egyptians usually travel around the country to spend time with their families during the religious holiday.  

The annual holiday, which starts on Wednesday, is the largest celebration for Muslims around the world each year as it comes during the Hajj season. The celebration honours the willingness of the Prophet Abraham to sacrifice his son Ismael at God's will.

According to Al-Ahram Arabic news website, passengers have been trying to buy tickets in the past two days though were not able to because there were none available.

This situation leave no option for those wishing to travel other than to take microbuses to reach their destinations. Micro-bus drivers usually take advantage of there being no other option for people to travel and increase their fares during the holiday period.

The shortage of train tickets usually affects those in the governorates of Upper Egypt -- Fayoum, Beni Suef, Minya, Assiut, Sohag, Qena, Luxor, Aswan, Red Sea and New Valley -- Egypt's Railway Authority spokesperson Nagwa Albert told Ahram Online.

"The problem is with the increasing population on a yearly basis, not in the number of trains in that the authority provides," Albert explained.

Egypt's population increased by 2.2 million in the year following January 2014 to reach 87.9 million by January 2015 and by 1.5 million since then to reach over 89 million, data from the national census authority shows.

This is an average increase of 0.21 percent each month. With today's population, that would mean 188,000 new Egyptians each month.

However, Albert said that the railway authority this year has provided Egyptians with 30 additional trains for the four days of Eid. "We are trying to fight the black market so the authority will provide the tickets for the 30 additional trains which will be travelling to different destinations during the Eid period," Albert said.

She explained that this is different than the usual train schedule in which passengers need to book 15 days prior to the trip.

"As soon as the authority posted the Eid schedule, all the tickets were sold out for the four days," Albert said.

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