Foreigners will be required to pay train tickets in either the United States’ dollar or euro starting January 2023, announced Minister of Transport Kamel al-Wazir on 25 December.
Initially, the only trains which required foreign currency payments were sleep-in trains. Al-Wazir observed that over one thousand of these tickets were purchased in the past week alone.
He argued that this new decision would enable the ministry to financially support the new railcars, train engines, and maintenance of new transport systems in Egypt, including deals signed with international companies.
“[That way] we can prevent tourists from needing to exchange currency on the black market, while also making it easier for them to pay for transport,” al-Wazir expressed in a call-in on Al-Hekaya (The Story) with Amr Adib. “We buy these [train systems] in dollars, not Egyptian pounds […] instead of being a burden on the Central Bank, we’re trying to collect a part of our budget in dollars in order to fund these trains.”
“We’re not going to take [dollars] from Egyptians, we’re asking foreigners who already are coming into the country with foreign currency. Before we made this decision, we consulted with and took permission from the government as a whole; I’m just a minister, I cannot make these kinds of decisions in a vacuum.”
This announcement comes with al-Wazir’s inauguration of the first luxury passenger trains in Egypt, known as the Talgo. The minister stressed that the investment in long-distance transportation is a step forward to providing Egypt with a more efficient and streamlined train network.