BEIRUT — During a meeting Saturday in Paris with a delegation from French transport company Alstom SA, Public Works and Transport Minister Ali Hamieh suggested the firm prepare a study for reviving Lebanon’s railways, left in ruins since the 1975-1990 civil war.
Here’s what we know:
• Hamieh proposed to the Alstom SA delegation that the French company “prepare a detailed study for the establishment of a railway line to transport passengers and goods,” the National News Agency reported.
• Hamieh’s proposed three railways: one from Beirut’s Rafik Hariri International Airport to the Port of Beirut that then goes up through Tripoli to the Syrian border, another one leading from the port up through the mountains to the Syrian border in the Bekaa, and a third that goes from Rayak in the Bekaa up to Homs in Syria.
• “It is true that there are many obstacles that stand in front of us,” Hamieh said of his proposal, but added that the compounding crises in Lebanon should not “discourage us from working hard to lay the foundations” for rail transport.
• Hamieh, who is a dual Lebanese-French national, said that his ministry was ready to sign a contract “with any French company in this field,” the NNA reported.
• Lebanon’s defunct railways were built in 1895, with 40 stations connecting 200 kilometers of tracks. The 1975-1990 civil war led to the end of the railroad system, with passenger trains last running in 1975, while freight trains discontinued their operations in 1979, with a brief resumption of work in 1984.