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Wednesday, 21 April 2021

Egypt’s rail network could be partially privatized

Private rail companies will be brought on board as operators of new trains the government is adding to Egypt’s existing railway network, Transport Minister Kamel El Wazir said in a statement. Ongoing plans include the purchase of six new passenger trains from Spain’s Talgo, which could be operated by a foreign or multinational company, and a contract with an unnamed foreign company to run overnight trains across the country, El Wazir said.

Cargo could also be semi-privatized: The government is separately looking to set up a JV with the private sector to own Egyptian National Railways’ cargo transport arm and set up companies to house several railway workshops in a bid to boost the efficiency and quality of rolling stock maintenance, the minister added. El Wazir’s statement comes following backlash in parliament and in the media after a string of deadly accidents, culminating in this week’s derailment near Qalyubia’s Toukh.

The minister also said authorities have a new approach to railway staff training. Part of this is the recent inauguration of a technical institute that will enrol students straight out of Thanaweya Amma and is due to graduate its first cohort this year. According to El Wazir, the institute’s new screening process ensures attracting better students.

Want more on why we need to fix the “human element” to improve Egypt’s ailing railway: We took a deep dive into why poorly trained staff is a major contributing factor to the recent rash of rail accidents in Egypt in this morning’s Hardhat, our weekly deep dive into infrastructure.

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