Private sector may operate railway lines, says Egypt Transport Minister

Egypt’s Transport Minister Hisham Arafat said that the cabinet endorsed during its meeting on Wednesday amendments to Law 152 of 1980 on Egypt’s National Railway Authority to allow the private sector to operate and maintain railway lines.

In statements to press after the meeting, Arafat said that the government would be more of a regulator giving the right to operate for the private sector, while the government would still monitor and set prices for the service.

Arafat pointed out that giving operation or maintenance rights to the private sector would be through a contract that does not exceed 15 years which will include the right to build new lines.

He explained that this concession will be given to the private sector because the authority can’t bear the expenditures of operating all the lines, explaining that it was serving 6 million passengers annually in 1952, and that it now serves 350 million annually.

“There is no privatization of the railways, we will work like the National Telecom Regulatory Authority (NTRA) that determines pricing and monitors, so the railway authority will build and monitor,” he said.

He added that the demand for transportation has become high and the ministry seeks to create new infrastructure and to create a signaling system in full, all of which needs funding.

Arafat said that after cutting subsidies to fuel, the railways have become a competitor in transporting goods, and that the ministry targets transporting 25 million tons through the railway.

He added that among the amendments to the law on the railway authority is toughening punishments for theft crimes of tools and facilities from the railway.

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