Egypt train derailment kills four near Cairo

Accident is the latest in a series of incidents, some deadly, on the nation's rail lines

Officers and first responders at the derailment in the city of Qalyub in Egypt's Nile Delta region. AFP
Beta V.1.0 - Powered by automated translation

The death toll from a train derailment in Egypt has risen to four, the Ministry of Health and Population said on Wednesday.

It said another 23 passengers are being treated in three hospitals following the Tuesday night accident, which involved a train travelling from Cairo to a town in the Nile Delta.

Another 11 passengers have been released from hospital with only minor injuries.

Police have said the train was travelling from Ramses station in the Egyptian capital to the city of Menouf in the Nile Delta. The derailment happened as the train approached Qalyub station to the north of Cairo, they said.

An investigation to establish the cause of the accident was under way, police officials said.

The country's general prosecutor said later in a statement that the train's driver has been detained following questioning.

It said the engine car and the first car were derailed when the train, which was moving too fast, slammed into a concrete barrier at Qalyub station.

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

Most occur at level crossings or are caused by negligence — mainly a failure to heed signals or a lack of communication between control room operators and drivers.

Railway passengers in Egypt regularly endure delays, overcrowding and technical glitches.

People gather at the site of a passenger train that was derailed in Al Qalyubia governorate. EPA

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 ($11.7 billion) on rehabilitation by 2024.

Transport Minister Kamel El Wazir, a retired army general appointed in 2019, has blamed negligence and apathy among the 45,000 employees of the state-owned railways for the service's ills.

Mr El Wazir threatened to invite foreign companies to run the service after two train accidents on consecutive days in 2021, which killed two people and injured more than 40.

Those accidents in Cairo and Alexandria followed others in March and April that killed at least 43 and injured hundreds.

Updated: March 08, 2023, 9:01 PM