- Egypt has one of the largest and oldest rail networks in the region. Image by marwa m. dakhakhny/Shutterstock.com
Egypt’s cabinet has approved a $440 million loan offered by the World Bank’s lending arm, the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), to improve the country’s railway network. The loan deal was already signed on April 28, according to the Egyptian cabinet’s statement.
The funds offered by the World Bank will be utilized for the Railway Improvement and Safety for Egypt (RISE) project that aims to modernize signaling and upgrade the performance of the Cairo-Giza-Beni Suef segment of the country’s railway network. The project aims to improve the punctuality of trains so that at least 90% of them run on time as against the present 75%.
The total project cost is estimated to be around $681.1 million, and the remaining $241.1 million will be contributed by the Egyptian National Railways (ENR), according to a statement issued by the World Bank on March 5.
The RISE project builds on the Egypt National Railways Restructuring Project (ENRRP), which was also financed by the World Bank, starting in 2009. The ENRRP focused on upgrading the signaling system of the Alexandria-Cairo and Beni Suef-Nag Hammadi segments. The project concluded in 2020.
Need for the project
Egypt has one of the largest and oldest rail networks in the region. ENR network transports 1.4 million passengers per weekday, logging in a total of more than 32 billion passenger-km per year in 2016-2017, according to the World Bank’s 2018 report. Due to the rickety safety infrastructure, the country has witnessed multiple fatal railway accidents in the past few years.
As per the findings of the European Union Agency for Railways, railway accidents in Egypt are estimated to be about five times more than those on European railways. Egypt’s statistics agency had reported 10,965 railway accidents between 2008 and 2017, of which 1,793 occurred in 2017—the highest in 15 years.
Frequent railway accidents
On April 18, 11 people died, and 98 others were injured after four carriages of a train traveling from Cairo to Mansoura derailed. In March, 32 passengers died, whereas 84 others sustained injuries due to a train collision.
In February 2019, a train accident in Cairo led to the death of 20 people. In 2018, a train collision in the Nile Delta north of Cairo caused the deaths of 12 people. In August 2017, two trains collided, killing at least 37 people, with 123 others injured. One of the deadliest accidents occurred in 2002 when 373 people were killed in a fire in a train.(ForbesAfrica)