File photo: Egyptian train (Al-Ahram)
Egypt's Minister of Transportation Hesham Arafat said at a press conference on Saturday that the ministry is planning to purchase 1,000 new train cars at a cost of EGP 16 billion to upgrade the country's old railway system.
The new train carriages, which will be financed by facilitated loans, should improve services for passengers, Arafat said.
The minister added, however, that a complete overhaul of the country’s railway system, which serves 104 million Egyptians but has not been updated in 50 years, would cost EGP 70 billion.
The new cars will cover 1,400 kilometres of tracks.
Some 300 million riders use trains annually, Arafat said.
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Thousands of passengers have been killed or injured in fatal accidents caused by derailment of outdated carriages, fires due to poor industrial safeguards, malfunctions, or human error at manually operated signal-crossings.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.
The most recent deadly accident on the tracks came last August when a train collision near Alexandria left 41 people dead and 179 injured.