Country Listing

Lebanon Table of Contents



Lebanon used to have a patchwork railroad system. From the central Syrian railroad depot of Homs, two standard-gauge lines entered Lebanon. One line passed down the coast to Tripoli and Beirut and ended just north of the southern oil terminal at Az Zahrani; the other came down the Biqa Valley to Riyaq, near Shtawrah. A narrow-gauge, mountain railroad running from Beirut through Riyaq to Damascus linked these two lines. The coastal line was still being used for occasional fuel shipments from the Tripoli refinery to Beirut in the late 1970s, but the line's southern section to Az Zahrani was cut in several places just south of Beirut. French companies had begun limited repairs on the damaged line but had to stop as renewed violence erupted in February 1984.The Biqa Valley line, antiquated already in the 1960s, finally went out of commission during fighting in 1975-76. Finally, the Beirut-Damascus line was verging on obsolescence even before the outbreak of war.

By 1987 it was believed that no trains were functioning anywhere on Lebanon's 407-kilometer system, and the prospects for the rail system's recovery were poor. Canadian consultants studied a possible revival of the coastal line in 1983, but security conditions made rehabilitation impossible. If the railroads are ever revived, the coastal line will get priority.

Data as of December 1987