Prime Minister Sherif Ismail held an urgent cabinet meeting on Monday to review progress on renovating the railway signal system across Egypt, following a Sunday train collision in Assiut.
Six died and three others were injured in the train, after it collided with a vehicle that was passing the Al-Balida railway crossing point near Giza on Sunday morning. The wounded persons sustained injuries the head, body fractures and severe bruises in the chest, according to an official statement from the Health Ministry.
The plan to renovate the railway signal system began in March 2014, whereby the Railway Authority shut down 1,593 crossings for maintenance, leaving only 351 in operation.
Following the Sunday collision, the cabinet issued order 233/2016 to form a technical committee to investigate the reasons behind the accident and review its results within the following 48 hours.
The railway signal at which the accident took place was reportedly among the crossings that were shut down for maintenance, and there were purportedly prior warnings to avoid passing through it at high speeds.
However, the train conductor told the police during investigations that an extreme fog blurred his vision while he was driving. According to the investigation, the conductor said he did not notice that the train had hit anything until it stopped in the following station near Beni Suef, where they found remains of the dead bodies on the train’s front.
Train accidents in Egypt are frequent due to the substandard infrastructure of railways and rundown train engines that have been in use for decades. Furthermore, a large number of railway signals nationwide do not operate properly.
In recent years, railways have been targeted with explosives, further contributing to the rise of train accidents.
One of the largest train accidents occurred in late 2012 near Assiut in Mandara village, where a train crashed into a school bus, killing dozens of children.
The Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS) reported in late December that during the first half of 2015, the number of victims from train accidents decreased from an average of 2.1 injured or deceased per accident in 2014, to 1.7 injured or deceased person per accident.
According to the report, the highest rate of deaths occurred in Damietta, with 95.2 deaths in every 100 injured persons.
Additionally, the most serious accidents took place in Fayoum and Suez, with an average of 3.6 deaths for each accident; the least serious accidents took place in Daqahleya, according to the report.