Friday, February 05, 2010

Museum: Cairo Railway Museum

Al Masry Al Youm (Hazem Zohny)

A week ago, an informal group of Egyptian train lovers attempted to bring the deteriorating state of a railway museum to the attention of the authorities, bombarding them with faxes highlighting the museum's condition. Al-Masry Al-Youm decided to investigate the situation of Egypt's forgotten railway treasures.

It all started with the idea of linking India and Europe. The year was 1833, and Mohamed Ali Pasha was considering a suggestion by the British to build a railway from Suez to Ain Shams. The idea was abandoned, but a little over twenty years later, the first railway in Africa connected Cairo and Alexandria.

The events that led up to such a momentous achievement and the ones that followed it, as the history of Egypt's railway, is a matter of varying concern for the little known Railway Museum at Cairo’s central train station, at Ramsis Square.

Why varying? Perhaps more than any other Egyptian museum, this is one that appears to have perfected the ability to simultaneously impress, and depress.

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