In the early hours of the Friday of Easter weekend, we learned of a fatal railway accident in Taiwan at the beginning of an important festival for people of Chinese heritage. In a beautiful part of the island, over 350 people were involved in a bizarre accident in which 48 were killed and over 100 injured. At the time of wrting, over 100 had escaped with difficulty and many were still trapped. Several carriages had derailed in a single-track tunnel in a mountainous region which has made rescue efforts difficult. The cause is said to have been a service truck parked on a slope near the entrance to the tunnel which slipped onto the track just before the train was due to pass. Until now, government-owned Taiwan railways had a forty-year record free of serious incidents.
That is more than be said for Egyptian state railways, starved of funds for investment, track maintenance and safety while the military-dominated government borrows from the EIB for prestige light-rail projects in Alexandria and Cairo. Last week's fatal collision was only the most recent and doleful of frequent incidents often involving casualties. Some low-level functionaries will, it is predicted, carry the can for the 32 deaths and dozens of injuries while the people at the top who failed to make vital spending decisions will be untouched.