Rail transport in Lebanon
Rail transport in Lebanon began in the 1890s and continued for most of the 20th century, but has ceased as a result of the country's political difficulties.
The Ottoman Empire
The first railway in Lebanon was built while Lebanon was part of the Ottoman Empire, with the French-established Société des Chemins de fer Ottomans économiques de Beyrouth-Damas-Hauran being granted a concession in 1891. This railway, which came to be known as DHP for Damas, Hamah et Prolonguements, was intended to link Beirut (now the capital of independent Lebanon) and Damascus (now the capital of neighbouring Syria), providing Damascus with port access. A contemporary British plan to link Damascus with Jaffa was seen as a threat to Beirut's status as the primary port of the northern Levant, and the French project was largely in response to this.
The Beirut-Damascus line was built to a 1,050 mm (3 ft 5 11⁄32 in) gauge, across mountainous terrain, and opened on 3 August 1895. The summit at Beidar 37 kilometres from Beirut was 1487 metres above sea level. To make this climb, extensive sections of rack operation were used. At around the same time, a line from Riyaq to Aleppo via eastern Lebanon's Beqaa Valley was approved. Although it was intended to provide service between Damascus and Aleppo, it was built to standard gauge, and as a result, traffic between those two cities needed to change trains at Riyaq. In the north, the city of Tripoli was also connected to Homs (now in Syria).
World War II
These lines continued to operate after the French replaced the Ottomans as the ruling power, and in World War II, the railways saw significant military use. Under British direction, the coastal line was linked to Haifa (in today's Israel, see Coastal railway line) and extended to Tripoli (See Tripoli Railway Station), all in standard gauge – this meant that it was now theoretically possible to travel from Europe to north Africa without changing trains. except for a train ferry across the Bosphorus.
When Lebanon obtained its independence, the parts of this rail system which were within its territory came into state control, eventually being organised as Chemin de Fer de l'Etat Libanais (CEL). CEL was formed in 1960. The Lebanese Civil War caused considerable damage to the rail network, however, and services gradually ceased. A 1974 article revealed that the 1.05 metre DHP system was still fully working but uncompetitive and loss making. It was entirely steam worked at the time. The last regular rail operations in Lebanon were trains carrying cement from Chekka to Beirut in 1997.
Cross border line
|Class||Image||Axle Formula||Number||Year in Service||Power
|Uerdingen railbus||12||Former German railbuses, in 1982–83 acquired from DB via MAS. Last one delivered in 1986–87. Apparently all destroyed during Lebanese Civil War.
798 672-2 > A 10450
- Arab Mashreq International Railway
- Palestine Railways
- Tripoli Railway Station
- OCFTC, Lebanon's public transport operator
- Al Mashriq. CEL – Lebanese Railways. Retrieved 24 August 2008.
- Section Libanaise de l’Association Française des Amis des Chemins de fer. Un bref aperçu de l’histoire des chemins de fer au Liban. Retrieved 24 August 2008.
- "The Beirut Damascus Railway" article by J. W. Knowles in Continental Railway Journal 18, June 1974, pages 117-123.
- Australian Railway Construction in the Middle East Knowles, J.W. Australian Railway Historical Society Bulletin, November, 1978 pp244–259
- HaRakevet: Rothschild PhD, Rabbi Walter (march 1991), Schienenbusse for Lebanon. Issue 12
- Section Libanaise de l’Association Française des Amis des Chemins de fer. Actualité. Retrieved 24 August 2008.
- Lebanese railway revival to be studied . Retrieved 23 August 2013.