organised chaos

Egypt: Will the private sector put trains back on track?

By Sherif Tarek

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Posted on July 5, 2021 17:12

Train derails in Egypt in Qalioubia province, north of Cairo
Egyptian police officers stand guard at the site where train carriages derailed in Qalioubia province, north of Cairo, Egypt April 18, 2021. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany

Egypt’s deadly train crashes persist despite attempts to revitalise its dilapidated railway network. But now the private sector seems poised to get involved in managing and operating the lines – a step that does not necessarily guarantee improvements.

Two years ago, a train accident that killed 25 people after a locomotive slammed into a barrier at the capital’s main Ramses railway station, was thought to be the breaking point for Egypt. What followed was upheaval in the sector and a light shed on the country’s ageing railways.

But the government’s persistent efforts since then appear to be anything but adequate to reduce the number deadly train crashes that have made headlines in recent months.

It is not entirely clear how efforts to upgrade the system will play out. But involving the private sector is on the cards, a move that observers are ambivalent about, with doubters arguing the current railway development endeavour is likely doomed to failure, like previous initiatives.

APTOPIX Egypt © Policemen stand guard in front of a damaged train inside Ramses train station in Cairo, Egypt, 27 February 2019. (AP Photo/Nariman El-Mofty)

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The notorious accident in February 2019, which saw victims set on fire on the platform – as shown in surveillance camera footage – sent

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