The International Steam Pages
Steam in Syria 2003
Manfred Schoeler reports on steam on the Syrian Hedjaz Railway (CFH) in April 2003:
From 27th April to 3rd May.2003 a group from Germany travelled on the Syrian section of the Hedjaz Railway. The main part of the itinerary was the spectacular Yarmuk Gorge, with an additional journey on the Serghaya Line and a train to Bosra.
Bad news during the evening of April 26th was that a landslide has blocked the line beyond Ain Fidje, so the most spectacular section between Ain Fidje and Zabedani was out of reach for our planed steam charter. Railway officials hope the line can be cleared and the track renewed by the time the season starts in June.
On April 30th 755 failed on its way from Kanawat to Ain Fidje. Repairs were made on the lineside and in the late afternoon the train arrived near the landslide. While repairs were made, Hartmann 90 performed some runpasts in Kanawat Station.
Locos at Kanawat:
Hartmann 90 in steam
The connection line from Kanawat to Cadem is still out of use because of the construction of the city Highway. Insh Allah the track will be rebuilt when construction work is finished.
Damascus - Dera'a - Amman
There is a daily freight train connecting this two capitals on 1050 mm gauge. Usually one of the Romanian diesels has to do this job. On Thursdays there is a mixed passenger service which should leave from Cadem between 7-8 am.
Yarmuk Gorge: Dera'a - Zeizoun
This line had been affected by the heavy rainfalls causing a number of landslides. The tracks had been cleared with the help of a bulldozer. The first journey down to Zeizoun was rather iffy but Hartmann 262 and her 3 coaches reached Zeizoun late but safely. Many thanks to the brave railwayman to get this train running. From April 28th to May 3rd. this line was perhaps the most busy one of the Hedjaz Railway. One after another, Hartmann 262, Borsig 160 and Hartmann 91 made the trip to the gorge. Highlight of the tour was the appearance of the Hartmann Mallet 962 on that spectacular line.
Dera'a - Bosra
Borsig 160 had the honour to be the final highlight with her train parked next to the Roman Amphitheatre at Bosra.
The public relations campaign launched against Syria - let's call it the propaganda of George W. and his gang has had bad effects in the whole country:
There is no organised tourism left at all, hotels are empty, the only few visitors you meet are individuals, UN officials, businessman, diplomats and steam enthusiasts. So our group was the only and first one in the whole country in 2003. Shame on you George W. - this is the way to ruin a whole section of a country's economy and to deprive thousands of honest people of their usual way to earn their living.
Thanks to the people of Syria for their cordial an warm welcome, thanks to the railwayman for their enthusiasm and thanks to the organiser for the courage not to cancel the whole project.