The International Steam Pages

Israel Industrial Railways, February 21st - 25th, 2015
Standard gauge

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The main base for researching and locating preserved industrial locomotives was the series of 13 articles on the industrial railways of Palestine and Israel by the late Paul Cotterell, as published in the Industrial Railway Record (IRR) between May 1991 and September 2013, as well as articles in HaRakevet.

0-4-0DM Deutz KS 55 B No. 57096 of 1960 (55 hp) was donated to the Israel Railway Museum in Haifa in 05/2011 by the United Steel Mills Ltd. It was formerly in use at the Akko Steelworks at Kiryat Plada on the Haifa – Nahariyya line. According to the article on the locomotives of Ashdod Port in IRR No. 198, it might have initially seen use during the port’s construction (until 1963).

Three of the Palestine (now Israel) Portland ‘Nesher’ Cement Company’s (IRR No. 204, 03/2011, pp. 124-132) cement plants were connected to Palestine and later Israel Railways by standard gauge branches. A third rail was laid on the 1050mm gauge Hedjaz Railway to the first plant at Tel Hanan (7 km SE of Haifa), opened in 1925. An internal 600mm gauge system which included a double-track cable-worked incline connected the plant with the quarry. Later this was replaced by a cableway. The standard gauge branch, worked by IR, was out-of-use by 2000.

In 1953 a new plant was opened at Ramla, connected to the IR station by a siding. Gebus 4wDM VL 561 of 1957 (5.5 tonnes, 75 hp and 26 km/h), built under license by Breuer, was in use here. After the siding was dismantled it was put on display, first in front of the cement works offices and later in the open-air Trucks and Transport Museum nearby (Sderot HaKhazon 13), where it is on display with a Fairmont speeder of unknown origin. The key for the gate can be obtained from the cement works office reception.

In 1969 the Nesher Co. took over the Beit Shemesh cement works, which had been opened in 1952 by the Shimshon Palestine Portland Cement Co. The siding connecting Beit Shemesh station with the cement works included a bridge over the Wadi Surar (Nahal Soreq) just before entering the plant. A 2’6” / 762mm gauge line connected the works and the quarry. Two Ruston & Hornsby 88DS four-wheel diesels are thought to have been used to work the standard gauge, of which No. 305317 of 1950 is preserved at the Eretz Israel Museum in Tel-Aviv. It was originally ordered by British Grafitized Metals Ltd. but appears to have been diverted to Israel.

The small four-wheel Plymouth diesel briefly described in IRR No. 214 (“Some Miscellaneous Railways and Locomotives”, 09/2013, pp. 14-21), supplied by the Pressed Steel Car Co. Inc. and equipped with a Caterpillar engine, which worked at the Yuvai Gad concrete pipe plant (ex Lock Joint Pipie Co?) in Ashkelon and was later preserved at the Ostrich Farm in Eilat is now at the Tractors Museum ( in Ein Vered (SE of Netanya).

Farm tractors were (and are still) used around Israel as a cheap form of motive power for shunting duties at various industrial sidings (IRR No. 137, 07/1994, pp. 313-314). Some retained their tyred wheels and were just fitted with a buffer beam and couplings, while others were converted to rail use by mounting flanged wheels. Some now survive in preservation, an example of the first type can be found at the Dagon grain silo next to Haifa Center HaShmona Station, on display on top of a shipping container. Examples of the second type can be found at two different sites:

At the Israel Railway Museum in Haifa, the blue Fordson Major tractor used to shunt the Mamgurot & Makhsanim grain silo siding at Bnei Brak station and came to the museum in 1999. It used to have concrete blocks attached to driving wheel for additional adhesion and a tarpaulin roof.

Also at the Museum, the red International Hydro 84 tractor used to shunt at Qishon Works.

Two other shunting tractors were recently preserved at Kibbutz Ein Shemer (NE of Hadera). The blue Ford 6610 was the successor of the Fordson at Bnei Brak’s Mamgurot & Makhsanim silo. It was mounted on the bogie of an IR Esslingen diesel railcar and could handle two loaded 60 ton grain wagons.

Also now at Ein Shemer, the green UTB (Romania) tractor worked the grain silos at Kiryat Gat from the mid-1970s until 1994, after which it was put on display at that same site.

At least two tractors are still in use with Israel Railways at Qishon Works, the Ford 6610 with equipment No. Q296 replaced the International tractor now at the museum.


Paul Cotterell, “The Railways of Palestine and Israel”, Tourret Publishing, U.K., 1984;

Paul Cotterell, “Make Straight The Way – A Historical Album of Railways in the Land of Israel”, Israel Railways, Tel Aviv, 2009;

Various issues of the Industrial Railway Record (as mentioned in the text),

Various issues of HaRakevet magazine,

Rob Dickinson