Egypt railway system needs $71 mn in upgrades: Transport minister

Ahram Online, Thursday 17 Jan 2013

Following recent train disasters, Transportation Minister Hatem Abdel-Latif tells Shura Council that $71 million is needed - at least - to upgrade Egypt's dangerously dilapidated railway infrastructure

A man walks beside the wreckage of a military train crash in the Giza neighbourhood of Badrashin, about 40 km (25 miles) west of Cairo, January 15, 2013. A train carrying young recruits to an police camp derailed in a Cairo suburb on Tuesday, killing 19 people and injuring 107, Egypt's health ministry spokesman said. (Photo: REUTERS)

Egypt's antiquated railway system requires an estimated LE170 million (roughly $25.7 million) for spare parts and maintenance, Transportation Minister Hatem Abdel-Latif said before the Shura Council (the upper house of parliament) on Thursday.

Speaking in front of the council's transportation committee, Abdel-Latif added that the necessary upgrade of train locomotives alone would require some LE300 million (roughly $45.5 million).

The minister went on to point out that about 3,300 train carriages were no longer fit for use, noting that Egypt had tentatively agreed to buy 221 new train carriages and had plans to purchase a further 336.

He also asserted that 171 train crossings nationwide would be subject to upgrade by the end of the current year.

Abdel-Latif's comments follow a massive rail accident on Tuesday in which 19 passengers were killed and another 120 injured in Giza. And on Wednesday night, four people were killed after a train collided with a taxi at a rail crossing in the outskirts of Cairo.

Abdel-Latif concluded by citing a 2002 study – conducted in the wake of a dramatic rail disaster in which 373 people died – that found that between 100 and 120 Egyptians were killed every year in train accidents.

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