CEL - Lebanese Railways


Chemin de Fer de l'Etat Libanais
The Lebanese State Railway Company

  0-8-0 108 en route north near Jbeil, 1974.

"In 1891 a French company obtained a concession to build a railway from Beirut to Damascus and this was soon merged with a Belgian project (CF en Syrie) for a line to Muzeirib serving the rich grain area of the Hauran. Formed in Paris, the Societè des Chemins de fer Ottomans Economiques de Beyrouth-Damas-Hauran at first planned a metre gauge adhesion line but the difficulties involved in ascending the Lebanon range behind Beirut resulted in the adoption of the Abt rack system for part of the route. The new trace was less circuitous but involved gradients of 1 in 14, and two reversals at Chouit-Araye and Aley, on the rack sections between kilometres 16 and 19 (from Beirut *). The summit of 5059 feet was reached at 38km [sic] after which the track descended to Rayak (3100ft) before climbing again to 4636ft to cross the Anti-Lebanon range; these two mountain areas, covered with snow for many months each year, made it a very difficult line to operate. The railway was actually built to a gauge of 1.05 metres and was opened in July 1894 (Damascus-Muzeirib) and August 1895 (Beirut-Damascus)." (Hughes, Middle East Railways, 1981)

These pages are an attempt to provide an overview of the history and present state of the railways in Lebanon. They are in no way affiliated with the Lebanese state railway company, nor are they supported or endorsed by the CEL. Any contribution to the material here is welcome.

- Børre Ludvigsen, 2008

* Corrected figures. See Hughes, Middle East Railways
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