Aswan passengers angry at steep rise in train fares, new ‘VIP’ services

Angry citizens in Aswan have criticized the Transport Ministry for converting several air-conditioned trains to a more expensive "VIP-class" service, while simultaneously increasing the price of tickets on trains running the usual first-class and second-class services.

First-class tickets from Cairo to Aswan have been raised from LE130 to LE235, and second-class tickets from LE67 to LE135.

Passengers criticized the doubling fares, which they say will hit poor people hard, particularly since so many rely on trains as their main means of long-distance transport.

They objected to the decision to designate air-conditioned trains as "VIP", saying that air-conditioning should be provided on trains of all grades, since travelling long distances without air-conditioning is uncomfortable in hot weather.

The long journey between Cairo and Aswan, which takes 14 hours by train, was arduous enough, they said, calling on the transport minister to provide quality transportation at an affordable price.

Hany Youssef, the campaign coordinator for "Together for Aswan Development", said residents of Aswan depend heavily on trains to travel north, particularly to Cairo. Plane tickets are too expensive, he said, and covering the 1,000 km journey in a bus is not practical.

Youssef called on parliament to intervene, reversing the transport minister's decision, taking into account the poor, the elderly and those who must travel to Cairo to conduct business.

In related news, the Egyptian National Railways Authority announced on Monday that it would be adding a new train to its VIP service between Cairo and Aswan.

The new train was supplied by the Arab Organization for Industrialization as part of a contract signed with the railway authority for the supply of 212 VIP train wagons.

The train is scheduled to depart Cairo for Aswan at 10 a.m. on Thursday, May 26, starting its return journey at 10 p.m. the same day.

The train will pass through Minya, Malawy, Assiut, Tama, Sohag, Nag Hammad, Qena, Luxor, Esna, Edfo, Koam Ombo, and Aswan stations.

Several new trains of the same sort were introduced during 2015, aiming to provide high-quality transportation along the length of Egypt, from Alexandria to Aswan.

Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm

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