Three killed after train crashes into minibus in north Egypt

Another accident involving a locomotive underlines problems faced by state-owned railways

Transport Minister Kamel El Wazir has previously said he may invite foreign companies to run the railways if the problem of train accidents persists. AFP
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A train ploughed into a minibus in Egypt's northern Nile Delta on Friday, killing three people and seriously injuring nine others.

Police said the accident happened in Sharqiyah province when the driver of the minibus, unaware of the approaching train, attempted to cross the tracks near the village of Akyad Al Bahariyah.

The National Railways Authority said the spot where the accident took place was not a designated crossing, but drivers continued to use it despite repeated attempts by local authorities to close it.

The minibus driver chose to use that crossing instead of the proper one, about 800 metres away, the authority said. He was arrested as he attempted to flee the scene.

Trains in Egypt are involved in hundreds of accidents a year ― many of them too minor to be reported by local media.

Most of these incidents take place at level crossings, or are caused by negligence — mainly failure to heed signals or lack of communication between control room operators and train drivers.

Railway passengers regularly endure delays, overcrowding and technical glitches. Thousands of hawkers roam the trains and stations, selling food, beverages and other items. Fare-dodging is common.

President Abdel Fattah El Sisi’s government has pledged to improve the service, with plans to spend 225 billion Egyptian pounds ($11.7bn) on rehabilitation by 2024.

Transport Minister Kamel El Wazir, a retired army general appointed in 2019, has previously said he may invite foreign companies to run the railways if negligence and apathy among the service’s 45,000 employees persisted.

He made the announcement after two train accidents on consecutive days in June last year, which killed two people and injured more than 40.

Those accidents in Cairo and Alexandria followed a series of deadly train disasters in March and April that killed at least 43 and injured hundreds.

Updated: September 02, 2022, 2:52 PM
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