Alexandrian Commuters Protest 'Death Train'
Egyptian officials have failed to respond to Alexandrian commuters' pleas to upgrade the principal means of transport for most of the city's low-income residents, the so-called “death train.”
According to the Egyptian Gazette on Thursday, the officials seem willing to accept the mounting death toll exacted by the old, overcrowded train, and are refusing to fix its faulty safety devices.
The “falling apart, over-packed train” carries people along a 17-km rail line between Misr Station and Abu Qir.
Officials have done little to alleviate the suffering of those who rely on the train to go to school or work, said the paper.
“Doors are jammed open, windows have fallen out and there are no fans despite the sweltering heat. But it is the human dimension that catches one's attention, as people cram inside the steamy carriages like sardines, hanging out the door and wedging themselves between the carriages,” said the report.
Passengers quoted in the report complained that the train's poor maintenance endangered the lives of its passengers. Every week at least one school-bound child falls off the train, one said.
All complain about delays.
"We wait for it daily from 6:00 a.m. [and] it may come over an hour late. It also stops at every station, and that can make us late for school," a student said.
The train has also become a haven for crime. Robbers carry knives and steal money by force, while pickpockets slide among the sweaty bodies, filching wallets and valuables before disappearing into the crowd, said the report.
Until the Arab-Israeli conflict interrupted railway service through Palestine in the late 1940s, Egypt shared in the glamour of the Agatha Christie-famed Orient Express, which carried generations of travelers through Europe and Turkey to Cairo and Luxor, according to a previous report by Al Ahram.
Ever since the Orient Express ceased to run, however, Egypt has had no luxury trains to speak of. There are, of course, the trains that connect Alexandria and Cairo, and the overnight sleepers between Cairo and Luxor, the paper said – Albawaba.com
© 2001 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)
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