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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Egyptian National Railways
Locale Egypt
Dates of operation 1854–present
Track gauge 1,435 mm (4 ft 8+12 in)
Headquarters Cairo

Egyptian National Railways (ENR) is the national railway of Egypt and managed by the parastatal Egyptian Railway Authority (ERA).



Already in 1833 Pasha Mohammad Ali consulted with about building a railway between Suez and Cairo to facilitate transit between Europe and India. Muhammad Ali had proceeded to buy the rail when the project was abandoned due to pressure by the French who had an interest in building a canal instead. The Suez Canal was eventually completed in 1869. After Mohamed Ali’s death Abbas I contracted with Robert Stephenson to link Alexandria and Cairo by rail. The first part of this railway between Alexandria and Kafer Eassa was opened in 1854, and the line was completed two years later representing the first railroad in Africa and in the Middle East.[1]

The Imbaba bridge was constructed in 1891 by Eng. David Trambley to allow trains to cross the Nile near Cairo, a key step to connect Lower and Upper Egypt.[citation needed] The contemporary Imbaba bridge was erected in 1924 and represents the only railway crossing of the Nile in Cairo. The El Ferdan Railway Bridge rebuilt in 2001 is the largest swing bridge in the world and crosses the Suez Canal.

The Palestine Railway linked El Kantara (East) with Palestine and Lebanon. It was built in two phases during the First and Second World Wars. Commenced in 1916, it was extended to Rafah on the border with Palestine as part of campaigns against the Ottoman Empire. The route was extended along the Mediterranean coast to link with Turkish Railways in 1940 and became a vital part of the supply route for Egypt.


In 2005 ENR operated 5,063 km of rail using standard gauge of 1435 mm. Most of the rail system is focused on the Nile delta with lines essentially fanning out from Cairo. In addition, there is a line to the west along the coast that eventually could link to Libya (as it did during World War II). From Cairo goes a major line south along the east bank of the Nile to Aswan (Sellel) in Upper Egypt. Neighboring Israel uses the same standard gauge but is no longer linked.[2] In the South the railway system of Sudan operates on a narrow gauge and is reached after using the ferry past the Aswan dam. Rail service is a critical part of the transportation infrastructure of Egypt but of limited service for transit. 63 km of the network is electrified, namely commuter lines between Cairo-Helwan and Cairo-Heliopolis.[2]

The vast majority of ENR locomotives are diesel. While ENR purchases locomotives and rail abroad, passenger coaches are built and refurbished in Egypt by the Société Générale Egyptienne de Matériel de Chemins de Fer (SEMAF).[3] In 2009 ENR began taking delivery of 40 Electro-Motive Diesel JT42CWRM (Class 66) locomotives for passenger services.[4]

Cargo volume transported by ENR is about 12 million ton annually.[3]

Passenger trains

ER is the backbone of passenger transportation in Egypt with 800 million passenger miles annually.[3] Air-conditioned passenger trains usually have 1st and 2nd class service, while non-airconditioned trains will have 2nd and 3rd class. Most of the network connects the densely populated area of the Nile delta with Cairo and Alexandria as hubs. Train fares in commuter trains and 3rd class passenger trains are kept low as a social service.

Sleeper trains

The Alexandria-Cairo-Luxor-Aswan link is served daily in both directions by air-conditioned sleeper trains of Abela Egypt.[5] This service is especially attractive to tourists who can spend the night on the train as it covers the stretch between Cairo and Luxor. A luxury express train also connects Cairo with Marsa Matruh towards the Libyan border.

Bus & ferry services

ENR serves a number of places by bus services including Abu Simbel (bus/ferry), Sharm el Sheik, Siwa oasis, and Hurghada.

Railway museum

The Egyptian Railway Museum was founded in 1933 and chronicles the history and development of the ENR. It is near the Ramses Station in Cairo.[6]


  • October 25th, 2009: Collision at Al-Ayyat in Giza, 50 kilometres (31 mi) south of Cairo. According to a security official an initial report stated that 30 people were suspected killed and 50 injured.[7]
  • February 20, 2002 Al Ayatt train disaster: A train packed to double capacity catches fire, 373 are killed.
  • August 21, 2006 Qalyoub rail crash: Two trains collide in the town of Qalyoub, 20 kilometres (12 mi) north of Cairo, killing 57 people and injuring 128.
  • September 4, 2006: A passenger train collides with a freight train north of Cairo, killing five and injuring 30.[8]

These recent accidents have been preceded by a succesion other fatal accidents in the previous decade:[9]

  • 1992 head-on collision at Al-Badrashin: 43 killed
  • 1993 collision: 40 killed
  • 1994 collision: more than 40 killed
  • 1995 3 major accidents: collision with bus: 11 killed; Qiwisna accident: 49 killed; Beni Sweif accident: 75 killed
  • 1997 2 major accidents: one with 14 killed, the other with 7 killed
  • 1998 accident at Kafr Al-Dawar: "dozens" killed
  • 1999 accident: 10 killed
  • 2000 accident: 9 killed


The debacle of the 2002 Al Ayyat train disaster showed significant deficiencies in the status and maintenance of the equipment. In the aftermath the ERA initiated a program to update equipment and improve safety.[3] While some services have been privatized (i.e food service, sleeper trains), ENR is considering further steps in privatization to increase efficiency and improve service. In addition ENR has dormant real estate holding that it plans to utilize in a more profitable way.

The 2006 Qalyoub rail crash led to further criticism of the management of the ENR raising issues of underfunding and corruption.[10] The head of the ERA, Hanafy Abdel-Qawi, was dismissed one day after the accident.[11]. In response to the accidents an investment programme was launched in 2007 with the aim of modernising the rail network and improving safety standards.[12]

Major stations

Most major lines originate from Ramses Station, Cairo or Misr Station, Alexandria:

Railway links to adjacent countries

  • Libya Libya - railways under construction - Same gauge - 1,435 mm (4 ft 8+12 in)
  • Sudan Sudan - no - Break-of-gauge 1,435 mm (4 ft 8+12 in)/1,067 mm (3 ft 6 in)
  • Palestinian territories Palestine - defunct
  • Israel Israel - defunct

See also


  1. ^ Raafat, Jordan (1998-03-05). "Desert Train Heralds Train Tourism In Egypt". Jordan Star. Retrieved 2007-03-18. 
  2. ^ a b "CIA World Factbook". Retrieved 2006-08-21. 
  3. ^ a b c d "Strategies to improve safety". Retrieved 2006-08-21. 
  4. ^ "Commissioning of Egyptian JT42CWRM begins". Railway Gazette International. 2009-05-20. Retrieved 2009-11-05. 
  5. ^ "Abela sleeper trains". Retrieved 2006-08-21. 
  6. ^ "Third Jubilee of Egypt Railways". Egypt State Information Service. 2001. Retrieved 2007-03-18. 
  7. ^ "Deadly train collision in Egypt" (in English). BBC. 2009-10-25. Retrieved 2009-11-05. 
  8. ^ "Five dead in Egypt rail accident" (in English). BBC. 2006-09-05. Retrieved 2006-09-06. 
  9. ^ Fatemah Farag (2002-02-28). "One Way Ticket". Al-Ahram. Retrieved 2006-08-29. 
  10. ^ "Egypt's Minister Admits Railway Problems". Retrieved 2006-08-29. 
  11. ^ "National Rail Head fired over Train Tragedy". Egypt: The Daily Star. 2006-08-23. Retrieved 2006-08-30. 
  12. ^ "Egyptian investment will raise safety standards". Railway Gazette International. August 2007. Retrieved 2007-08-30. 


  • Cotterell, Paul (1984). The Railways of Palestine and Israel. Tourret Publishing. ISBN 0-905878-04-3. 
  • Hughes, Hugh (1981). Middle East Railways. Continental Railway Circle. ISBN 0-9503469-7-7. 
  • Goldfinch, Gary. Steel in the Sand - The History of Egypt & its Railways. ISBN 1-900467-15-1. 

External links



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