Preliminary probe into Egypt's Sharqiya train crash shows negligence: Prosecution

El-Sayed Gamal El-Din , Saturday 17 Apr 2021

Train services between Cairo and Sharqiya were briefly halted until a crane lifted the derailed carriages


A preliminary probe into a train crash in Egypt’s Sharqiya, that injured 14 people last week, has shown negligence, the prosecution announced in a statement on Saturday.

Two carriages of a Cairo-Dakahliya train skidded off tracks on Wednesday evening near the Minya Al-Qamh station in the Nile Delta's Sharqiya governorate, leaving 14 passengers injured.

Train services between Cairo and Sharqiya were briefly halted until a crane lifted the derailed carriages.

The prosecution set an initial scenario for the accident, which it said occurred after two carriages of the 338 train - heading from Cairo to Dakhahliya - derailed for approximately 80 metres.

The train had exceeded the speed limit set at the renovation area between Benha and Minya Al-Qamh stations, which was set at eight km/h.

The prosecution said that the railway worker, who was tasked with instructing train drivers on passing the renovation area, was not available during the derailment, adding that he admitted to it during the investigation.

The investigation also showed that the Benha stationmaster failed to provide the train driver with a form that sets areas with the necessary speed humps, including the mentioned area undergoing a revamp.

The prosecution also said it detected forgery  - on the forms - by workers at the Benha station in an attempt to avert the station the responsibility of notifying the driver and warning him.

The statement added that the train driver admitted to not activating the automatic train control (ATC) systems throughout the trip, citing orders by the Egyptian National Railways (ENA) on the necessary shutdown of the system in slowdown ones that include maintenance areas to avoid a delay in the trains’ arrivals.

A Sharqiya railway official said in the investigation that there were no written guidelines by the ENA to date on the necessity of activating the system - unlike rules in November 2020 - on the permissibility of ATC deactivation in repair zones.

Egypt's railway system has had a poor safety record for decades, with deadly collisions and accidents that are often blamed on poor maintenance and management.

Officials have repeatedly stressed that billions of pounds and several years that are needed to upgrade the country’s railway network to provide better service to the public and prevent deadly accidents.

The Sharqiya train crash came less than a month after two trains collided in Upper Egypt’s Sohag, killing 20 people and injuring 199 others.

Investigations into last month's deadly train collision revealed human error and negligence by railway employees.

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