Lost in Trainslation
ExecutiveMagazine -

Kan ya ma kan (once upon a time), Lebanon had a well-developed railway network established by the different foreign authorities that governed the country before its independence.

The first major rail line was developed during the Ottoman period in 1895 and ran from Beirut to Damascus. It was constructed by the French upon a concession from the Sublime Porte.

The second major rail line ran from Haifa, a port city in Palestine to Tripoli, north Lebanon and was constructed in 1942, during the second world war, by the Australian army.

In between those major lines, smaller lines or links were also developed. The first was constructed in 1904 and connected Riyaq (Rayak) in the Bekaa to Syria’s Homs passing through Baalbek. The other was constructed in 1911 and ran from Tripoli to Homs to Aleppo.

Trains in Lebanon continued to function regularly until the onset of the civil war in 1975 when infrastructure gradually deteriorated. Since the end of the civil war, until now, there have been no functioning trains in Lebanon.

The photos in the photo essay were taken by Greg Demarque during an educational field trip organized by I Learn Academy. Information for text and captions was provided by Train/Train.

  • Locomotive and train carriage in Riyaq, central Bekaa
  • Locomotive and train carriage in Riyaq, central Bekaa
  • Interior of Chouit Araya Station
  • Chouit Araya Station, Mount Lebanon
  • Chouit Araya Station, Mount Lebanon
  • Riyaq (Rayak) Station doubled as a workshop for locomotives and included a rest house
  • Remains of tunnel and tracks in Dahr el-Baidar, through which the Beirut-Damascus line used to pass
  • Baabda (Babda) Station
  • Manual train switch in Baabda
  • Old railway bridge in Mar Mikhael
  • Remains of train tracks in Mar Mikhael



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