A map of Egyptian State Railways as they were in the 1920s.


A map of Egyptian Delta Railways as they were in the 1920s.

The State Railways at this time operated some 2250 route miles of standard gauge track and a further 125 miles of 2ft 6in gauge in the form of the Western Oases Railway to Kharga. The line from Alexandria to Cairo was the first railway on the African continent, and the first section was opened to Kafr-el-Zayat in 1854 and the section on to Cairo was opened in 1856. This involved the construction of two bridges over the Nile, one at Kafr-el-Zayat and one at Benha. Cairo was then linked to Suez by a line opened in 1858 so providing the first modern transport link between the Mediterranean and the Red Sea, 11 years ahead of the Suez Canal. The line south from Cairo down the Nile valley was opened in stages to Assiut between 1867 and 1874 and on from Assiut to Qena between 1892 and 1897. In 1895 a concession was granted to the Societe du Chemin de Fer de Kena a Assouan for a metre gauge line linking the two but this changed to a standard guage line on down to Luxor and a 3ft 6in gauge one on to Aswan, both opening in 1898. At Aswan it connected to another 9 mile long line to Shellal built earlier to bypass the first cataract on the Nile when shipping military supplies to the Sudan.
In 1900 London based Egytian Delta Light Railways Ltd. took over two earlier concessions and greatly expanded the network of 750mm gauge lines in the triangle generally east of a line between Cairo and Alexandria. Control passed to the Egyptian Goverment in November 1945 and services were suspended in 1952 due to financial problems.
All the pictures here were taken in 1920s and 1930s and come from publications in Chris Walkers collection.

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