Only rust remains at Rayak: Lebanon′s railway heritage In August 1895, the first steam locomotive departed from the port city of Beirut, crossed the rugged terrain of Lebanon′s Bekaa valley and arrived in Damascus. Back then, Lebanon was the first country in the Arab world to have a railroad and one of the world′s first train factories in Rayak – a Lebanese border town located six kilometers from Syria.
The city of Rayak is found in the middle of the Bekaa Valley, between two of the major touristic cities of Lebanon, Zahle, and Baalbek. This city was once well known for its military airport, agricultural laboratories, cinemas, restaurants, schools, and international military bases. What brought all that fame and success to the city was Rayak`s Railway. Rayak Railway is divided into two parts, the train station, and the Factory. . The train station: It is approximately 35,395 m2, and consists of 9 buildings. A big hotel (The Buffet Hotel), the stations main building, an office building, ticketing and communication center, a military center, a postal station, the employee lounge, and the Security and keying office Building. In the Eastern side of the station, there are two rails, the Straight-Rail, and the Curved Rail. The Straight-Rail which connects the station to Beirut and to a British military Base in Terbul was stopped in the nineteen forties. Whereas the Curved Rail connects the station to the factory from there to the city of Homs and to the new Beirut Rail. On the western side of the station, there is the rail that connects the station to Damascus. All three rails are sectioned into seven rails and connected to each other. In the Northern side of the station five of the sections are located, three of which were used for passengers and two for the trans-abordment of goods.
The two other sections are located on the southern side of the station and they were used to redirect locomotives. . The factory Is approximately 133,430 m2 and consists of forty-eight buildings which were divided into two basic units. The storage area, and the factory. The storage area consists of twenty-three buildings in which one, functioned as a station where imported spare parts were unloaded, seven hangars where the spare parts and raw materials were stored, another as an equipment room, there were three office buildings, nine storage cabins, a storage keepers lounge, And a guards cabin. The factory area consists of twenty-five buildings. One of the buildings is the huge factory divided into several segments. These segments were for the meltdown of different metals, a section for tool reparation, the mechanical machinery division, the main circuit engine room, plumbers workshop, the tracing office, an air compressing room, the painting center, the brake reparations section, three foundry segments, and three assembling segments. The other buildings were named according to their profession: the carpentry, the steam and pressure clock reparation room, the engineer`s offices, medical clinic, electric plant, locomotive garage, restaurant, the Dormitories, transformation center, traction center, hangar, store head office, employers train station, keying center, turning blade, ticketing office, two security towers, and 4 security cabins, stoke fuel center, and alimentation center.