Egypt’s public prosecution accuses railway employees of causing Sohag train collision

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The Egyptian public prosecution’s investigations into the Sohag train collision last month revealed several surprises. It held junior employees responsible and did not address the Railways Authority’s accountability.

The investigations did not mention the former Minister of Transport’s admission that he instructed train drivers to drive fast and deactivate the ATC device, which is the primary safety tool for trains. The ATC’s task is to monitor the train’s speed and warn its driver when an accident happens on the track or when it exceeds the speed prescribed for it.

Activists considered that the investigations’ results were similar to the previous ones, holding young employees to account without addressing the disasters caused by their superiors. The results of the prosecution’s investigations claimed that the signalman had taken hashish, and an assistant had taken tramadol.

The Egyptian public prosecution said in a statement that the investigations confirmed that the head of the Central Control Department in Assiut left his workplace at the time of the accident, despite this department’s responsibility for monitoring the movement of trains at the collision site. The public prosecution’s viewing of the recordings of the surveillance machines in the Sohag station, which is located before the scene of the accident, found that the assistant driver of the train was sitting in the driving seat and driving instead of the main driver.

The forensic medicine report showed that the injuries of the train driver and his assistant were inconsistent with their allegations in the investigations that they remained in the front cabin during the collision. The report indicated that they might have left the cabin before it happened. The collision of two passenger trains in Tahta in Upper Egypt caused several train cars to derail and overturn, and more than 20 people were killed and 185 injured.