Egypt replaces rail authority head after three accidents in a month

Thirty people have died on Egypt's railway system in just one month

Egypt removed the head of its railway service on Tuesday following three accidents in a single month that left at least 30 people dead and more than 300 injured.

The Transport Ministry named Mustafa Abu El Makarem as the new boss of the state-owned Railway Authority.

Mr Abu El Makarem was given a one-year tenure.

He replaced Ashraf Raslan Shalaby, who becomes an adviser to the minister.

Mr Abu El Makarem’s appointment was part of a sweeping overhaul of the railway’s top-tier management, replacing officials in charge of different sections of the government’s ambitious plans to upgrade the unreliable and accident-prone service.

“These appointments … fit in with the next phase that requires promoting professionals to continue the drive for ongoing, comprehensive development of the railways and to offer a better service,” the ministry said.

The latest train accident was on Sunday, when several carriages of a passenger train travelling north of Cairo overturned after they went off the rails, killing 11 people and injuring nearly 100.

Last week, two carriages from a train also travelling north of the Egyptian capital in the Nile Delta derailed, injuring 15 passengers and one rail worker.

Twenty people died on March 26 and about 200 were injured when a train ran into another train making an unscheduled stop in southern Egypt.

That was the deadliest train accident since 2019, when an engine car laden with fuel hit a wall at Cairo’s main train station, igniting a fire that killed 22 people and injured scores more.

Transport Minister Kamel Wazir, a former army general who has been in the job since 2019, said accidents will continue to take place until an ambitious overhaul of the railway is completed, warning passengers of frequent delays to ensure safety while the work is underway.

The government has spent 40 billion Egyptian pounds ($2.55bn) on upgrading Egypt’s railway network in the past six years and plans to spend another 141 billion pounds in the next few years to overhaul the service.

Updated: April 21, 2021 02:42 AM

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