Egypt train crash
A crane lifts an overturned passenger carriage after a railway accident in the city of Toukh in Egypt's central Nile Delta province of Qalyubiya on April 18, 2021. Image Credit: AFP

Cairo: Egypt’s rail authorities plan drug tests for workers after a string of train crashes blamed on negligence and drug-taking, local media reported.

The tests are aimed at detecting drug takers and will mainly target drivers, their assistants, ticket collectors and supervisors as well as workers in charge of signals, crossings and control systems.

“Rail employees will undergo surprise drug tests,” a source at the National Railways Authority was quoted by Al Watan newspaper as saying.

Workers who test positive for drug use will be penalised by cuts in wages and will be suspended from engagement in rail operation for six months during which they will get their basic salaries only, the source added. “The worker will have to undergo a drug test again during the six months,” the source added.

“If he tests negative, he will return to work. But if the result is positive, he will continue to be suspended from work. In the third test, if the result is positive, the worker will be transferred to a job unrelated to train operation,” the source said. If the worker is proven to be an addict, he could be sacked from the service by a disciplinary court.

Deadly crashes

Egypt has witnessed two deadly rail crashes in less than a month. A train derailed on Sunday north of Cairo, leaving 23 people dead and more than 100 injured. In the wake of the tragedy, the head of the rail authority and other officials were replaced.

The accident came a few weeks after a collision between two trains in Egypt’s southern governorate of Sohag killed 22 people.

Egypt’s worst rail accident happened in 2002 in which at least 350 people were killed.