Presentation of the Transport Sector


In Syria, the road transport is the dominant sub-system; however the significance of rail increased in the last years, especially in passenger transport.

The Syrian transport sector represents

_ 2,988 Million EUR turnover

_ The proportion of GDP is 13%

_ More than 370,000 people are employed in this sector

_ Average growth rate is more than 7%

_ The services are provided by the private and public sector

The infrastructure is composed of

_ Road network length: 47,442 km (2008)

_ Rail network length: 2,495 km (2008)

_ 02 main ports (Latakia, Tartus)

_ 03 principal airports - Damascus, Aleppo and Latakia


Rail Transport


Rail transport in Syria is used for freight and passenger transport.

_ Rail passenger transport: 1,091 Mio. pkm (2008)

_ Rail freight transport: 2,381 Mio. tkm (2008) 


Rail Passenger Transport

The passenger rail transport is mainly used between cities. Urban transport is mainly conducted by bus, minibus and taxi (road).

Rail passenger transport grew substantially from 2007 to 2008 (744 Mio. pkm to 1,091 Mio. pkm). The reasons are railway reforms and higher prices of overland buses due to increased gasoline prices.

The 2005 introduction of new rolling stock on the Damascus - Aleppo line, and the Aleppo - Latakia line has increased occupancy levels.

Since 2003, the Damascus's al-Hijaz railway station has been closed. The al-Hijaz line is a narrow gauge line which was integrated in the Jordanian railway network.

The international rail passenger transport is about 9 Mio.pkm. Main destinations are Iran and Turkey.


Rail Freight Transport


Rail freight transport plays a major role in Syria. Main goods are (2008):

_ Fuel, Gasoline: 1,123 Mio. tkm (about 50% of total volume);

_ Phosphate: 532 Mio. tkm (about 20%);

_ Fertilisers: 112 Mio. tkm (5%);

_ Cement: 95 Mio. tkm (4%).

The international rail transport has a relatively small share (2008) :

_ Transit: 67 Mio. tkm mainly from Turkey to Iraq and from Latakia port to Iraq;

_ Import: 123 Mio. tkm mainly from Turkey;

_ Export: 3 Mio. tkm mainly to Turkey 9,000 tkm.

The export by rail dropped from 2007 (18 Mio. tkm) to 2008 (3 Mio. tkm) due to drastically reduced phosphate exports. 


The railway network


The railway network is operated by the Syrian railway company (CFS) and has a total length of 2,495 km (2008). Major investments are foreseen.

_ It is a pure diesel network;

_ The whole network is standard gauge - 1,435 mm;

_ Less than 20% of the network is equipped with colour light signals;

_ There are no high speed lines; the maximum speed is 80-130 km/h;

_ About 60% of the network is equipped with relay interlocking, the remainder is mechanical interlocking;

_ The rolling stock is composed of:

- About 230 diesel locomotives (2009);

- About 10 train sets (passenger transport vehicles);

- About 474 coaches (passenger transport vehicles;

- About 4,970 goods transport wagons.

Although the railway is maintained poorly, it still operates well, although there are speed restrictions.

In 2008 it was agreed to open a joint rolling stock factory with Turkish State Railways at Aleppo. The target for the start of operation is 2013.

The only remaining section of a narrow gauge line is the line from Damascus to Jordan. However, this line is not in operation anymore.

In 2004 Syria ratified the Agreement on International Railways in the Arab Mashrek, which provides for the implementation of a variety of North-South and East-West links within the region, including the restoration of direct rail links between Syria and Iraq.

The railway links with adjacent countries are:

_ Iraq: one link at Yarubiya/Rabiya, 1,435mm. Open for freight and passenger (passenger since 2008);

_ Israel: defunct;

_ Jordan: 1,050 mm link is available, but no operation;

_ Lebanon: defunct, line was closed in mid-1970s, there are plans to reopen the line, but financing is open;

_ Turkey: two links Nusaybin and Midan Ekbis, 1,435mm; 3rd link under construction (Juman Big) – planned to be opened by end of 2009.

International standards are applied for all current and future projects.


Investments in interoperability and definition of freight corridors (Action 12)

The plans regarding new lines and upgrading of railway infrastructure are as follows:

A. until 2013


A new line between Deirezor - Albokamal (Iraqi borders) /operation planned for 2011 - line is under construction (cost 200 Mio. $)

_ Supplying and installing a new system for signalling and communications; 100% upgrade of network reached in 2012 (cost 110 Mio. EUR)

_ Construction of three dry ports and intermodal terminals - Homs (inoperation since 2009), Adra in operation since 2009 – Aleppo operation planned for 2012

_ Construction of railway between Damascus and Dar'a (Jordanian border) – operation planned for 2013 (cost 270 Mio. $)


B. 2014 and 2020

_ Upgrade of Aleppo – Damascus line, planned with Italian support – operation planned for 2014 (Cost estimated between 180 Mio. $ and 380 Mio. $ - depending on option chosen);

_ Developing Aleppo - MidanEkpass line (Turkish border) – currently preliminary study – operation after 2015 (Cost 380 Mio. $);

_ Developing Qamishli (Turkish border) - Alyarobeye (Iraqi border) – currently preliminary study – operation ready after 2015;

_ Developing new line between Homs and Tartous; Developing new line between Homs and Moheen. –

operation after 2015 (Cost 120 mio. $);

_ Constructing of railway between Palmyra Al Shrkeyeh and Deirezor (connecting with Deirezor- Albokamal (Iraqi border);

_ Construction of railway between Domrir and Caboon;

_ Construction of railway between Domeir and Al Sharkeyeh to connect Damascus with Albokamal (Iraqi border).

Syria proposes the line Deirezoor – Alboukama as a regional freight corridor. It connects the Syrian ports and Turkey with Iraq and the Arab Gulf States. This corridor is expected to be finished and put operational in

2011. It is designed according to UIC standards with an operating speed of 160 km/h.


National Rail Company and Main Responsible Authorities in Rail Transport


CFS is the Syrian national railway company. For operational purposes CFS is divided into three regions:

Central, Eastern and Northern. At the end of 2008 CFS employed around 12,485 staff. 

There is no specific law or regulation for the railways sector.

A new organization has been applied in CFS to improve its performance. Currently, CFS is organized in about 30 functional directorates.

The Ministry of Transport is the relevant authority for the railways sector. There are about 16 authorities and companies under the responsibility of the Ministry of Transport. The Syrian Railways is one of them.


The structural reform (Action 13)

Separation of operation and infrastructure


There is no separation between infrastructure and operation. Such a separation is also not planned. However, first studies on railway reforms have been undertaken.

The operations of freight and passenger transport are not separated from an organizational point of view.

However, from a revenue perspective passengers transport and freight are managed as separate accounts.


National Safety Authority and Accidents investigation


There is no specialized railway safety or independence authority in Syria. This is also not planned for the future. For the investigation of railway accidents there is a committee within CFS, whose duty it is to inspect accidents and investigate the reasons. This committee reports directly to the General Director and consists of 7-8 experts.

Over the last years the number of accidents has been increasing. In 2005 0.43% of trains have been involved in an accident; in 2008 this ratio was 0.55%.




Syria is an important transit country in the Mediterranean Region. Rail is an important national mode of transport. In 2004 Syria has commenced on an important investment project. Focus is the upgrading of parts of the network and the enlargement of the network by more than 400 km until 2013. The aim is to link the

Syrian network with the Jordanian and Iraqi networks.

Syria’s proposition for a regional rail (freight) corridor is the link between Turkey and Iraq connecting also the Syrian ports. Within the EuroMed context the link to Jordan is of regional interest and should be encouraged

and supported by the EU.

The structural reform according to European guidelines has not started yet. It would be beneficial for Syria to start the discussion process on this topic soon, otherwise the competitive disadvantage with other regional railways will increase and prevent the establishment of a well performing rail sector. The exchange of international experience/benefits regarding reform processes could be beneficial to Syria.


source: Status Report on the Implementetion of RTAP