123 others are injured after two trains collided near the city of Alexandria
Rail authorities said a train travelling from Cairo had hit the back of another that was waiting at a small station in the Khorshid district, just west of Alexandria.
The events leading up to the crash at 2.15pm local time are unclear, but a security source said a track switching error was the most likely cause.
Footage from the scene showed dozens of people crowding around the damaged train cars, with bodies on the ground.
Some people are still stuck in the wreckage, a medical official told state television.
Dr Abu Homs, head of Alexandria's ambulance services, said he fears the death toll and number of injured could rise further.
Egypt's health ministry confirmed the number of dead had risen to 36 and that 123 people had been injured.
The public prosecutor has ordered an urgent investigation.
A spokesperson for the Department of Foreign Affairs said it had received no indication of any Irish citizens caught up in the incident, however the Irish embassy in Cairo stands ready to provide consular assistance should it be required.