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The Railways of Palestine and Israel

by Paul Cotterell

Tourret Publishing ISBN-13 978-0-905878-04-1; ISBN-10 0-905878-04-3; A4 Hardback; 150 pages

 

The Railways of Palestine and Israel, Paul Cotterell

 

THE RAILWAYS OF PALESTINE AND ISRAEL
PAUL COTTRELL
Tourret Publishing, 1984

 

It’s been thirty years since Paul Cottrell’s remarkable book –The Railways of Palestine and Israel was published. Since the book’s publication the Israel Railways (IR) have continued an aggressive program of modernization and expansion. So, those wishing to learn about the IR in the late 20th and 21st centuries should begin by reviewing the long excellent internet article published by Wikipedia.


But for those interested in Middle East history and the role of the railways in Palestine and Israel during the late 19th and 20th centuries, Cottrell’s book is required reading.


Cotterell’s research is extensive. After discussing “Early Disappointments” in Chapter 1, he turns his attention to the first railway which opened on September 26, 1892 connecting Jaffa and Jerusalem. The chapter covers the period 1892 to 1914 and features an excellent map, fascinating photos, a detailed text, and a short summary of the Hedjaz Railway. Cotterell deliberately minimizes his treatment of the Hedjaz, because R. Tourret was shortly to produce his definitive history of that line.


Chapter 3 is particularly interesting because it covers World War I. No less than 5 gauges were laid down in what was then Palestine and are illustrated in one of the two excellent maps. Again, the photos are intriguing especially one showing friends, relatives, and onlookers watching a trainload of Jewish recruits for the British Army pulling out of Jaffa. Cotterell covers British General Allenby’s successful campaign against the Turks in great detail, emphasizing the important role played by the railways in the British victory.


Chapters 4 and 5 cover the period from 1920 to the formation of the State of Israel in 1948. The 51 pages are bursting with no less than four maps, photographs, equipment and locomotive drawings and detailed text. In dramatic contrast to the modern IR, founded in 1948, the text makes it clear that the predecessor Palestine Railways (PR) had fallen on hard times. One observer in 1938 commented: “The Palestine Railways were reminiscent of nothing so much as Fontaine Fox’s old comic, the Toonerville Trolley. Today they remain in almost the same disreputable condition as they were when Palestine was nothing but a decrepit Turkish Province.”

Chapter 6 focuses on the IR. Cotterell obviously is a railfan as well as a historian. After examining PR and IR steam power in great detail, he leads the reader through the transition from steam to diesel commenting on the disappointments as well as the accomplishments. Much of the chapter covers modern IR operations (as of the early 1980s) and its political and economic context. As in the prior chapters, there are two detailed maps, excellent photos (including a brand new diesel hauling some ancient passenger coaches at Haifa Mizrah), and scale drawings of virtually all of the motive power and rolling stock. It closes with a detailed look at future scenarios for the IR.

Chapter 7 is a short treatise on some strange and wondrous industrial railroads.
At times the amount of detail covered by Cotterell makes for tedious reading, but those who enjoy Middle East history as well as the railfan community will read and re-read this book.

Dr. Lewis M. Schneider
Harvard University

Dr. Schneider had a long career in transportation education and consulting before retiring in 1990. His interests include railroad photography, collecting toy trains, bel canto opera, and the history and current politics in the Middle East.

This and other books are available through this URL: http://www.tourretpublishing.com/

 

 


 

 

 

Other Rail Lines and Miscellaneous Pages

 

 Dera to Haifa Line
Haifa
Balad al-Shaykh
Tel Esh Shamam
Afula
Bisan
Jisr al-Majami
Yarmouk Valley
Samakh
El Hamma
Zeizoun
Tel Esh Shehab
Muzerib
Dera'a

 

 

 Ma'an to Ras al Naqb Line
Ma'an to Ras al Naqb Line
Ma'an
Abu Lissan
Ras al Naqab

 

 Jerusalem to Jaffa Line
Jerusalem
Malcha Station under construction 
New line under construction
Jaffa

 

 Yemen
Yemen

 

 

Miscellaneous
Miscellaneous
The Amman to Damascus Trip
Wadi Rum

 

Dera-Bosra Line
Dera'a
Garaz 
Garez Junction
El Taibeh Station
El Taibeh Bridge
Gasim Junction
Bosra Station
Bosra Citadel
 Damascus - Mezrib Line
 Damascus Midan
 Daraya
Sahnaya
 Kiswe
 Khan Denum
 Zerakie
 Ghabaghib
 Sanamein
 Kuneiye
 Kuteibe
 Sheikh Miskin
 Obta
 Dael
 Tafas
 Mezerib
 Damascus - Beruit
Damascus Baramke
Dumar
Hame
Jedeide
Ain Fije
Deir Kanum
Wadi Barada
Wadi Barada Tunnel
Et Tekkie Hatt
Zebdani
Serghaya
Rayak
Haush Hala / Moallaka
Said Neil/ Jedita / Mrejatt
Deir elBeidar/Ain Sofar
Bhamdun/Manchra/ Aleih
Areiyah / Jamhur
Baabda / Hadeth / Beirut

 

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