It seems unthinkable today, but did you know that there were plans to build a train line from Lebanon to Syria as recently as 2002? The price tag of the project was around $700,000– “the cost of a minister’s house,” exclaims Elias Maalouf, the head of the Train/Train NGO.
The group is now trying to revive plans to build a Byblos-Batroun line as an initial project to help get the momentum going for more investments in a nation-wide network. With no public transport and more cars and traffic everyday, going without trains is a luxury our lungs (and minds) can no longer afford.
Elias and the others have accomplished a lot in the last few years, holding exhibitions across the country, giving lectures and workshops, publishing books and now preparing studies to go forward. But they could use your help.
Tomorrow the Train/Train group is holding their second brainstorming session and it is open to the public. It will be held at Berytech in the Beirut Digital District at 7PM. And if you can’t make it, get in touch with them through their Facebook page to find out how you can help.
Architects, engineers, students, activists and just plain concerned citizens showed up to the last meeting:
For a little inspiration see this previous post on Lebanon’s 100 years of locomotive history and engineering innovation. And for some more background, see a recent piece in The Independent as well as a post on Gino’s Blog with links to some cool videos and interviews. Thankfully the issue is getting media attention, but it will also take volunteers on the ground to make the project happen. As we all know in Lebanon, the government won’t act without real public pressure. Your pressure.
If you need directions to the digital district, it’s on the street parallel to Falafel Sahyoun in Bachoura (Bechara el Khoury street), near downtown/ring bridge. Feel free to contact me for more details by using the ‘contact us’ form at the top of the page.