Train Collision Cause Revealed: Driver Left Train Running to Argue with Fellow Conductor

Wednesday morning, a train collision occurred in the Ramses Train Station in Downtown, Egypt. The blaze claimed 25 lives and left 50 injured, with death tolls reportedly still rising. New reports shed the light on the cause behind the train collision: Driver negligence.

In an interview with ON channel, the train conductor, Alaa Fathy, admitted to having left the train unattended. He jumped out of the train while the engine was still running, and disregarded the safety brakes, to argue with another train conductor. He apologized to the public in his video, citing that it wasn’t an intentional error, and that he was in a state of shock when the train started moving and didn’t know what to do.

Aftermath of the February 27th train collision. Source: Egypt Independent

The conductor was arrested in an apartment in Menoufiya, where he’d fled after the crash. During the interview, he told his side of the accident, revealing that he’d been working in the railway industry for over 25 years, and discussing the industry’s renowned lack of proper maintenance. The other conductor allegedly crashed into him, the initial accident that threw him off and sent him into a shock and caused him to forget to set the brakes or turn off the engine.

He claimed that he’d reached out to the Control Tower to inform them of the news once the train cart started racing away, and that he had trouble getting in touch with them. Alaa Fathy stayed on the scene of the initial crash after the cart had rolled away for a brief while and then left, not knowing how to react. He said he didn’t see the crash happen as he was 2 to 3 kilometers away. When he left, he was expecting to come to work the next day to find out what happened, and was worried he’d be fired.

Alaa Fathy seems disconnected from the reality of the incident; he keeps emphasizing his inability to react and understand the situation which is in line with the typical symptoms of traumatic shock.

This incident shines the light on a new aspect of the challenges of the Egyptian Railway Authority (ERA), which is the need for proper response and crisis training for the train conductors. Aftermath of train collision and fire at Ramses Station in Cairo, Egypt (27 February 2019)

Damage on platform No. 6 following the train collision. Source: BBC

In the wake of the accident, the Minister of Transportation Hisham Arafat submitted his resignation to Prime Minister Moustafa Madbouli. The government launched a comprehensive investigation into the incident, along with initiatives to provide healthcare for the affected. This includes offering 25,000 EGP for the wounded, and 80,000 EGP for the families of the victims. President El Sisi offered his condolences to the families of the victims.

Still, in every grim situation, the Egyptian society manages to come through. From accounts about the heroic citizens like Walid Mordy who stepped in to save people on the platform, to the blood drive being organized for the injured victims, there are always people out there trying to help.

Big number of citizens have rushed into hospitals where the victims of the Ramsis Railway Station blaze are treated to donate blood - press photo

Citizens gather in hospitals to help Train Collision victims. Source: Egypt Today