From Cairo to Aswan, the regular train costs £E109 for first class. At this writing, foreigners traveling by train from Cairo were all but forbidden to take second-class trains—they’re probably doing you a favor, given the condition of bathrooms in second-class trains—and could only buy first-class tickets for travel at night; by day, Egyptian commuters are the priority passengers. You can also take the train from Luxor to Aswan, day or night; fares are £E41 first-class. Travel time between Luxor and Aswan is 3 to 3½ hours.
Most tourists traveling from Cairo to Aswan by train will prefer the comfortable sleeper cars run by Abela, which make the daily trip to Aswan from the cavernous Ramses Station in central Cairo. Tickets should be purchased at least 10 days in advance at the Abela office in the station, or you can arrange for tickets through a local travel agent. At this writing, there are two daily departures in each direction. Train 84 leaves Cairo at 8 pm, reaching Aswan at 8:15 am; Train 86 departs Cairo at 9:10 pm, arriving in Aswan at 9:30 am. For the return journey, Train 85 departs Aswan at 6:30 pm, arriving in Cairo at 6:45 am; Train 87 leaves Aswan at 9:20 pm, arriving at Cairo 9:30 am. A single couchette with meals costs $80 one way; a double couchette costs $60 per person. These fares must be paid in foreign currency, not Egyptian pounds.
Ernst – Watania Sleeping Trains. Ramses Station, Cairo, Cairo. 02/3748–9388; www.wataniasleepingtrains.com.