The Hejaz Railway

The Hejaz Railway 400
The Hejaz Railway
Photo by: Verity Cridland , Creative Commons

The Hejaz Railway had the original purpose of connecting Istanbul and Hejaz many years ago. Hejaz, Arabia contains the holiest shrines of Islam and Mecca. The railway helps those who make the pilgrimage every year easier. Another important reason for building the railway was to promote the economy and help in military transportation of both Istanbul and Hejaz. Unfortunately it was severely damaged during World War I. But now, it is one popular tourist spot because it is being rebuilt and kept as original as possible. The workers even use original steam locomotives.

The appeal of the Hejaz Railway is the history that it carries. It has survived for many years and has survived the passage of time enduring the wars and conquests of many empires. It is an antiquity preserved by the Islamic people.

The Hejaz Railway is very narrow and built as part of the Ottoman railway. But what was noteworthy about it is the fact that it had acquired no debt even by the time it was completed. It is also the only known railway for having much of its track below sea-level. Nowadays, there are two linked sections that are operating. They still provide service to the Islamic community. The first travels from Amman (Jordan) to Damascus (Syria). To the community, it is known as the “Hedjaz Jordan Railway”. And the other one travels from the phosphate mines near Ma’an to the Gulf of Aqaba. This one is known as the “Aqaba Railway”.

Restoring Hejaz Railway’s locomotives is the main priority. And because the nations of Jordan and Syria are improving, the railway might even be fully revived to its former glory and put to full use. There are still minor non-operating sections of the railway track, buildings and rolling-stock preserved just for sightseeing. These include the Medina Terminus. The railway also carries religious significance. It is surrounded by holy places that have influenced the people’s faith and culture.

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