Tunisia: Train Derailment Kills 2, Highlighting Infrastructure Challenges

by | Jun 21, 2023 | Economic, Political, Social, Tunisia


On 21 June 2023, Tunisia’s national railway company – Societe Nationales des Chemins de Fer Tunisiens (SNCFT) – announced the launch of an investigation into a train derailment that occurred late on 20 June, killing two people.

The Gabes-bound train derailed just before midnight on 20 June 2023 near Msaken, a city just south of the coastal city of Sousse. In addition to two deaths, the derailment resulted in 34 injuries requiring hospital treatment. By Wednesday, 28 of the injured were released from the hospital.

In 2021, a Tunisian official stated that there are approximately 100 rail accidents a year in Tunisia, with most occurring at intersections where roads cross over the train tracks.

Tunisia has had several noteworthy rail accidents in recent years, raising concerns about the state of the country’s railway infrastructure:

  • 21 March 2022 – Jbel Jelloud just south of Tunis – A head-on collision between two passenger trains injured 95 people
  • 7 October 2021 – Megrine Riadh in Ben Arous – Two trains collided, injuring 30 people
  • 2 December 2019 – Dahmani in Kef – A train struck two people, killing them both
  • 9 July 2018 – near Skhira in Sfax – A collision between a train and a car killed six people
  • 14 June 2017– Ksiba Thrayet in Sousse – A collision between a train and a car killed four people
  • 28 December 2016 – Jbel Jelloub just south of Tunis – A public bus was struck by a train at a crossing, killing five people and injuring more than 30 people
  • 28 December 2016 – Metlaoui in Gafsa – A train collided with a cargo truck, killing one person and injuring one person
  • 16 June 2015 – Al-Fahs in Zaghouan – A Tunisian passenger train collided with a semi-trailer truck, killing 18 people
  • 17 July 2014 – in Tunis – A train linking Tunis to Kef derailed, causing the death of six people and injuring 75 others
  • 24 September 2010 – Bir el Bey in Ben Arous – Two trains collided, killing one person and injuring 57 people

In May, the Tunisian Minister of Transport announced plans to invest 36 billion dinars in Tunisia’s rail transport sector. This announcement came at the Middle East Railway Conference and Exhibition in Abu Dhabi and includes ambitious plans for urban metro systems and high-speed inter-city trains by 2040.


Safe and reliable transport remains a challenge in Tunisia due to aging infrastructure and difficulties operating public transport services reliably. Across the country, many railway crossings lack safety features that would prevent many of the accidents reported. However, the installation and maintenance of this infrastructure has proven difficult.

Plans to improve rail infrastructure hold both domestic and regional promise, but funding such projects will be a major challenge. However, with many of Tunisia’s European partners eager to assist with economic revitalization, such opportunities could be realized in years to come.


Explore our services or speak with our team of North Africa-based risk experts.