Normality started to return to Egypt’s railway system earlier today as the first trains in 68 days left Cairo Central station. 14th August was the day when two Muslim Brotherhood protest camps in central Cairo were forcibly removed with great loss of life by the Egyptian security authorities, who shut down the intercity train network the same day.
Today’s partial resumption of services on the Lower Egypt line comes with a huge security operation on stations and on trains, with x-ray checks for luggage and electronic gates now installed for passengers at main stations. ENR and the security authorities are being cautious but thankfully seem determined to start running a full schedule again on all lines ‘soon’.
Dostor gave some details of the trains and amid a sense of optimism that ENR was returning to normal.
ENR partially resumed train services today with 16 trains (ie 8 return Cairo-Alexandria-Cairo services], including 4 air-conditioned services. The number is expected to rise to a near normal 24 trains ‘soon’. Transport Minister Dr Ibrahim el-Demiri pledged that all the remaning lines would return to service gradually over the next few days. This step comes after security authorities agreed train services between Cairo and Lower Egypt could be restored as the first step to a complete resumption in the near future. This has been planned to guarantee passengers’ security and safety.
Demiri added that in addition to the Alexandria services, ENR had started to operate 4 daily trains Cairo and Ismailiya and Mansura. 4 trains were also running on the Cairo-Minuf-Tanta line and a further 4 trains were operating on the Cairo-Manashi-Etay el-Barud line.
There’s a great interview with ENR director Mustafa Mahran at Cairo Central this morning from el-Balad TV’s morning show. Mahran stresses that ENR has taken advantage of the shut-down to carry out maintenance work on the trains and the railway system, and many staff have been continuing to work throughout the period. Sadly the video is no longer available.