Cross-border revival starts
LEBANESE Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and his Syrian counterpart Mustafa Miro attended ceremonies at Riyaq on April 18 to mark the start of work to restore the 1050mm gauge railway between the two countries. Other participants included Lebanon's Public Works & Transport Minister Najib Mikati - who has been advocating the project for several years - and Syrian Transport Minister Makram Obeid.
Lebanon's Railway & Transportation Authority expects to complete the renovation of the 25 km link between Riyaq and the Syrian border town of Sirghaya in six months, at a cost of US$700000. Syria's Hedjaz Railway Authority will provide technical supervision. The link was built in 1895 as part of the Hedjaz Railway's Damascus - Beirut line, but has been out of use for many years.
Mikati expects that restoration of a direct rail link between Lebanon, Syria and Jordan will 'boost the movement of people and goods, particularly agricultural products'.