Rail transport in Lebanon began in the 1890s and continued for most of the twentieth century, but has ceased as a result of political difficulties in 1975 at the beginning of the civil war.
The railway network
The rail network has a total length of 408 km. The coastal line is standard gauge extending between Aabboudye (Syrian border) at the north and Tripoli-Beiruth- Sidon-Tyre-Naqoura (border with Israel) at the south with a length of 224 km. The line Riyak– Baalbek- Koussair (Lebanese-Syrian border) is standard gauge and has a length of 102 km. The Beirut (Port) – Riyaq – Serghaya line is narrow gauge and has a length of 82 km.
Due to the long period of non-operation, the rails and sleepers have been removed in many areas. A disadvantage of the existing costal line is its close proximity to the Mediterranean, thus leading to controversy with land owners. There are plans to reconstruct this line further inland, close to the national
There is a project to restart operation of a small section (36 km) between Tripoli and the Syrian border. The planning is almost completed and the future operator has been chosen (Syrian Railways). After the final decision and allocation of necessary funds (33 Mio. USD) the operation could start in 2012. The implementation period is estimated with two years.
Main Responsible Authorities in Rail Transport
The authority for railway transport is bundled under the responsibility of the Ministry of Public Works and Transport within which the authority for Railways and Public Transport is responsible for the railways sector.
This authority is semi autonomous.
Lebanon is an important transit country in the Mediterranean Region; however, railways are not operational.
For these reasons the project to re-launch the line between Tripoli and the Syrian border should be encouraged. A working railway infrastructure could provide large benefits to the country. Furthermore, Lebanon should also be encouraged to link to the planned Jordanian network.
These first projects to re-establish a railways structure should be in line with European technical and organizational standards (interoperability). Further advice from the EU is considered as beneficial.
source: Status Report on the Implementetion of RTAP