2/24/2005

Tram-why?

One of the last surviving pieces of the tramway rails that were laid in Damascus in 1907. It was the year when electricity was first introduced into the city by a Belgian-Turkish company and the tramway (pronounced in Damascus as tram-why) began to compete with carts as the main method of transportation. By 1931, the tramway had a network of 6 lines: Al-Midan, Al-Jisr Al-Abyad, Sheikh Muheddine, Muhajireen, Kassa' and Douma. The picture shows where the tramway used to turn right, after an exhausting day of carrying hundreds of people, to be parked inside the complex of the Electricity Company in Al-Mutanabbi Street. The last tramway to make this journey ran on these rails in 1961.

With the substitute now being the air-polluting, chaos-producing, uncomfortable micro-buses, many people in Damascus yearn for the tramway days and tell their children (or grandchildren) nostalgic stories about the jabee or commissiari and his wooden ticket box, the 7.5 eresh (Piastre = 1/100 Syrian Pound) they used to pay for the first class ride and the 5 they used to pay for the second class one.

9 comments:

Oz said...

It's a nice post, i didn't know that there was a tramway in Syria, that's amazing. Post again and again, it'll make me learn more about my country,lol.

Anonymous said...

It proves that the anti-Ottoman propaganda is false,the osmanlis embellished the Syrian cities whereas the modern Syrian regimes disfigured them with hideous buildings and because of wrong energetic policy the people breathes unsanitary air explaining the growth of cancerous diseases.

Oz said...

well said Mr, I also think that Ottoman policy was quite expansive but not so bad for the growth of syria at the Time. some news on
http://btw-f-s.blogspot.com it try to collect some idea's about Syriano-lebanese issues right now.

Fadi said...

I would like to say that the elders were much smarter and far-sighted. And what did we do? WE CHANGED ALL THAT. We didn't like it. It was too clean and organized.
There are some talks about insituting a Metro system in Damascus. Very nice idea. I hope in my lifetime.
Keep up the good work Ayman.

Dina said...

I too hope they will re-introduce trams.They are clean and an efficient mass transit system.
As mr.Fadi said,Inshalla in our lifetime...

Anonymous said...

Most American cities built and destroyed tram systems in a few short decades, as well. The auto companies, tire companies and oil companies conspired in many places to buy up the tram lines, tear them up and replace them with motor busses. Really a disaster for everybody.

If you go to San Francisco you can ride reconditioned trams from cities around the world, electrically powered, running on city streets. They're such a tourist attraction that regular commuters have trouble finding a space on the trams.

But a beautiful system of trains extending hundreds of miles north, south and east of SF was ripped out after World War II. Now many of those corridors are congested with auto traffic for much of the day. Too bad we don't have the old Key Rout lines anymore. Such terrible planning.

Syria isn't the only one with this problem, is my point.
Leila at http://bedouina.typepad.com

Anonymous said...

They've been talking about the metro system for ten years now.
Instead of digging up kilometers of tunnels under the city (which is very expensive, and very boring if you are a passenger travelling underground), they should use the already laid railway tracts of what is left of the Hejjaz line and the Beruit line. If new trains were bought and used on the Beruit line that would solve a great problem as commutors from Domar, Kodsayia, Hammeh... would be able to travel to work in the city very fast.. this would remove alot of the congestion and pollution.

Anonymous said...

I've seen these tram tracks in Damascus in the early '90s during a visit. The right turnout leads to a place where the Depot used to be. This place now has the office of the electricity company. Unfortunately the guard only spoke Arab, and I don't.. The gauge is a relatively odd 1050 mm, similar to the Hedjaz railway which station is in walking distance from this spot. Apart from this piece I haven't seen any track left in the city then. As far as my info goes the tram ceased to operate in 1967. Aleppo and Beirut also had tramway systems. Erik

Anonymous said...

See also at
http://www.tramz.com/tva/sy.html
For more info on the Syrian tramway systems
Erik