Railway passengers angry over ticket price increase

The Railway Authority's decision to increase ticket prices for air-conditioned trains caused anger among passengers, particularly at a time when people are booking tickets for Eid al-Fitr.
Resentment prevailed among citizens at Misr Railway Station as people waited to buy tickets. Overcrowding was also a problem and several would-be passengers were unable to get a ticket.
"We were surprised by the decision to raise the price by LE20 all at once, which led to many passengers condemning the move, because the government continues to raise ticket prices without improving the level of service," said passenger Ahmed Ali.
"Despite the high ticket price, I could not book a ticket to Aswan on the day I was supposed to travel, because the booking of that day was ended.
"At the same time, there are still people who sell tickets on the black market without any control on the part of railway officials," Ali added.
One passenger was shouting inside the station in protest of the decision and called on the government to back down on it. "The decision makes us unable to travel, as many of us suffer from diseases that prevent them from traveling by regular (not air-conditioned) train," he said.
"It is haram what you are doing to us government!" he shouted. 
Mahmoud Zakaria, a worker at the Irrigation Ministry in Assiut, echoed the same words.
"We can hardly afford the price of the ticket," Zakaria said.
Ahmed Hamed, chairman of the railway authority, said in an earlier statement Wednesday there would be no increase in the price of normal trains, despite recent work to improve services on them.
According to Hamed, the new ticket prices will be LE20 for first class air-conditioned train seats and LE10 for second class air-conditioned train seats.
The increase in prices aims to cover costs and reduce the burden placed on the state, especially in these difficult times experienced by the country, Hamed added.
The price for spare parts, maintenance and fuel continue to increase and have amounted to more than a 300 percent increase, in addition to losses incurred by the authority requiring an amendment to the pricing policy to be commensurate with the real cost of the transfer of passengers, he said.
Deputy Transport Minister for railways, Wagdy Radwan, said the authority's expenses amounted to LE20 billion over the past four years, compared to approximately LE8 billion in revenues, with losses of up to LE12 billion pounds during the same period.
The Cabinet approved the liberalization of railway prices, starting July 1, in order to cover the costs, saying there have been no increases in air-conditioned train ticket prices since 2007.
Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm

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