Egypt's train service to partially resume after grinding halt

Ayat Al-Tawy , Sunday 20 Oct 2013

Twenty eight trains will resume operation between Cairo, Alexandria on Tuesday; complete restoration of railway services remains on hold

A stranded passenger walks inside an empty train carriage during strike by drivers at the main train station in Cairo, April 7, 2013 (Photo: Reuters)

Egypt's national train service will partially resume on Tuesday after a two-month hiatus implemented in mid-August brought the railway system to an almost complete standstill.

Twenty eight trains between the capital and the Mediterranean city of Alexandria will be put back into service, an Egyptian railway authority official said.

These trains will travel from Cairo to Alexandria, and vice versa.

The Egyptian railway system was brought to a halt following a deadly police raid on two Cairo protest camps set up by loyalists of toppled president Mohamed Morsi, which left hundreds dead and unleashed days of bloody street showdowns.

It was the first long-term closure of the railway system in recent years.

Nagwa Albeir, media advisor of Egypt's National Railway Authority, said that only multi-stop, long-distance trains were halted in the wake of the August crackdown. "The city-to-city trains of the sub lines have been operating normally since."

Albeir said the city-to-city lines generate almost no income for the state due to the unavailability of air conditioned trains and the low ticket prices.

The railway authority has incurred LE 4 million in daily losses as a result of the operation disruption, Albeir told Ahram Online.

"Since the mid-August political turmoil, the authority has sustained LE12 million in losses due to damage at offices and lines and LE 21 million from theft of spare parts and tracks," Albeir elaborated.

In late September, 14 out of a total 1100 trains were brought back into operation between the Nile Delta and Upper Egypt.

An entire resumption of service remains unlikely anytime soon. Officials say the matter is at the hands of security institutions.

Egypt's railway service transports around 500 million passengers annually (1.4 million per day), according to the railway authority's website.

Egypt has been rocked by turmoil since Morsi's ouster and the ensuing security crackdown on his supporters.

Deepening political upheavals have hammered tourism and investment in the country, which has struggled to restore order since a 2011 uprising toppled former autocrat Hosni Mubarak.

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