Khaleej Times carries this report on new efforts to reestablish the Hijaz/Hejaz Railway, linking Turkey with Saudi Arabia. The original railway (See map), intended to connect the Ottoman capital of Istanbul with Mecca, was never quite completed. With some construction shortcuts, it did reach as far as Medina. The railway was famously the target of Lawrence of Arabia and the ‘Arab Uprising’ during WWI and never reopened after that war. Different sections of the line have been operational since, but never the entire distance. The current proposal, which calls for Syrian and Jordanian cooperation, will run from Ankara to Mecca. I’m assuming that the Istanbul-Ankara leg will be covered by existing Turkish Rail service.
JEDDAH – Saudi Arabia and Turkey plan to rebuild the historic Hijaz Railway. The nearly 1,400 kilometres long railroad between Damascus, Syria, and the Holy City og Madinah was laid to facilitate travel of pilgrims to Saudi Arabia.
The planned destination was Makkah, for which work was begun but ?never completed.
The railway was initiated by the Ottoman authorities, and built under German administration, but largely with local labour.
The line, which passed through desolate regions, was a victim of attacks. It was operational only for a short period, between 1908 and 1916. Since then it has only been used between Damascus and Amman.
Construction of the railway was begun in 1900. It was completed and opened on September 1, 1908. In 1913, the Hijaz Train Station was opened? in Damascus.
“The plan envisages restoration and modernisation of the railway line by the Turkish government within its territory, while it calls on Syria and Jordan to rebuild the tracks on their sides,” Turkish Transport Minister Binali Yildirim said during a business meeting in Riyadh on Wednesday.