The state-owned news agency MENA reported on Tuesday that Egypt has purchased a new 6.8 million euro railway track inspection vehicle as part of efforts to enhance the safety of an outdated railway system dogged by frequent accidents.
Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly signed a supply and maintenance contract with Austria’s Plasser & Theurer Company to provide Egypt with a Track Recording Car EM100U to measure and analyze defects in Egypt’s railway system and upgrade it.
The signing was attended by Transport Minister Hisham Arafat, Head of the Railway Authority Ashraf Raslan, and Plasser’s regional manager Wolfgang Waldner.
In this regard, Madbouly confirmed that signing the contract comes as part of the major steps taken by the government to promote the railway service and scale up the safety of Egypt’s railway.
Meanwhile, the Minister of Transportation Hisham Arafat said that the vehicle is expected for delivery within a year.
In the same context, Waldner expressed his thanks to Egypt’s Railway Authority, stressing that the company will put the contract’s items into effect at the agreed dates.
The track recording and inspection vehicle EM100U – made by Austrian track maintenance machine manufacturer Plasser & Theurer – measures, records and analyses defects in tracks and rails at a speed of 110 km/h.
The technology includes a video recording system that offers images of the rails and track components as well as a rail flaw detection system that allows ultrasound testing of the rails. It also offers track substructure measurements through ground-penetrating radar.
It will be replacing the 40-year-old inspection equipment used by Egypt’s railway authority and aims to improve the network’s safety standards, Arafat said during the signing of the sale contract with the Austrian company.
The deal includes providing spare parts and maintenance for five years.
Egypt’s railway network is notorious for its poor safety record, mostly blamed on a lack of maintenance, manually-operated systems and poor management. Successive governments have failed to enforce basic safety measures for the network.
Last month, a passenger train derailed near the southern city of Aswan, injuring at least six people and prompting authorities to fire the chief of the country’s railways. The incident came two weeks after at least 58 people were wounded when a passenger train derailed south of the capital Cairo.
The transportation ministry has embarked on a five-year EGP 55 billion plan to upgrade the system, which includes developing infrastructure, purchasing new trains and upgrading old ones.