Egypt's train fares will not increase until services are developed: Transportation minister

Ahram Online , Monday 21 Oct 2019

Minister of Transport
Kamel Al-Wazir, the now former head of the Egyptian Army's Engineering Authority was appointed as the new transport minister on 11 March, days after his predecessor Hisham Arafat resigned following a fatal train crash and blaze in a central Cairo railway station, which killed 22 people; one of the country's deadliest railway accidents in recent years.

Egypt's Ministry of Transportation was not planning on raising train ticket prices until train services were comprehensively developed, stated Kamel Al-Wazir, the transportation minister, on Monday, during parliament's Transportation Committee meeting.

Al-Wazir added that raises would be coordinated with parliament's Transportation Committee beforehand, and after modernising the services offered, even if the price raises covered only 50 percent of the cost of services.

"The ministry bares almost five times the service cost price in some railway lines," Al-Wazir said in parliament.

"The ministry is making use of every available resources and will continue to subsidise railway network services," he added.

Egypt has been implementing a plan to develop the railway network by introducing new rail cars, maintaining some of the existing ones, upgrading railroads, and modernising signalling systems and stations. The country's railway system has suffered for decades a poor safety record, with frequent deadly collisions often blamed on the lack of maintenance and poor management.

In 2017, President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi urged the need to upgrade the railway network to prevent deadly accidents, stating that the system needs EGP 180 billion (about $10 billion) to be upgraded.

In mid-2018, Egypt's Ministry of Transport announced a project to revamp the national railway network, with EGP 55 billion to be invested till 2022.

In July, the Egyptian National Railways (ENR) said train fare would not increase in the near future following the increase in fuel prices after the government's introduction of the fifth and final tranche of subsidy cuts.

Egypt was the second country in the world to introduce railway services after England. The ENR is responsible for operating rail systems and services that extend to about 9,600 track kilometres. 

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