Travel on The Hejaz Railway
Some know it as the line built by the Ottoman Turks to transport pilgrims from Damascus to Mecca, while others know it as the railway bombed by TE Laurence and the united Arab tribes throughout globe war one. Built in 1906, the Hejaz line is more than a century old, and what few men and women know is that those really exact same carriages still run nowadays.
Twice weekly infact between Damascus and Amman,the Hejaz line was only ever laid as far as Medina, as Bedouin tribes prohibited the completion of the line to Mecca. Never the much less the route became well-known with pilgrims when it started operating in 1913. The journey took some fifty 5 hours and proved to be a winning option to the sixty day journey by camel.
Hejaz Right now
If you strategy to travel on the Hejaz line these days, only a tiny section of the railway still remains Damascus to Amman and visa versa. The rails further south have either fallen into disrepair, been destroyed altogether, or have been adopted by the Jordanian government to transport potash and phosphate.
The route has remained some thing of an enigma to mainstream tourism, and is utilized largely by locals, military personnel, and the odd solitary rail enthusiast
But rail enthusiast or not, you won’t be disappointed. The rusty carriages although faded and archaic, preserve all the charm of the early twentieth century. The seats are difficult wooden planks, the actions are barely hanging on by a screw, and the toilets are unthinkably bad. But if you appreciate meeting the locals, have a sense of adventure, and don’t mind finding sand in your lunch, there are few much more rewarding approaches to see the backyard of the Middle East.
And as you rattle by means of the desert at a small more than jogging speed snapping away to your memory card’s content, you’ll wonder why most travellers in the region opt to do the identical journey in much less than half the time, staring out at the country’s highways from the comfort of an air conditioned bus.
The train run twice weekly from Damascus to Amman and visa versa. However the steam engine has been abandoned in favour of a diesel, and just since the train is scheduled to depart at a particluar time does not necessarily mean it will. To buy tickets just arrive at the station in the morning, half an hour just before departure (it definately won’t leave early), take a seat on the crumbling carriage, and then wait for the inspector to arrive, generally following departure, from who you can acquire a ticket.
The Journey takes 10-12 hours. Bring some lunch, as none will be provided and shopping opportunities on route are limited. On arrival at the border, you in fact alter train, on to a similarly archaic locomotive. Passports are collect here too, and returned once more an hour or so later at the first station inside Jordan/Syria
Decisions about no matter whether the train will really run are left usually to the really last minute, and even if you confirm the day ahead of there are no guarentees. Don’t put too much faith in what guides, hotels, or travel agencies tell you, as really few of them truly know the train nonetheless exists let alone if and when it is most likely to leave.
Nevertheless, if you arrive at the station on the day to uncover the train is cancelled, you’ll have ample time to have a leaisurely breakfast, locate the bus quit, drive to Amman, and nonetheless arrive many hours prior to the train will.