The Daily Star: Tripoli’s train station opens its doors for 100th anniversary
TRIPOLI, Lebanon: To mark its 100th anniversary, the Tripoli Railway Station opened its doors to the public over the weekend for the first time since 1975.
The event, which was organized by Friends of Tripoli Railway Station in collaboration with Al-Mina Municipality and the Railway Administration in the Ministry of Transport, was aimed at introducing visitors to the station and increasing the public’s awareness of its important heritage and history.
The head of the organization, Elias Khlat, said the event was a way to “open the door for people to get to know the station and strengthen relationships among those who wish to support the activities of Friends of Tripoli Railway Station through various forms of communication such as Facebook, Twitter, and the organization’s website.”
According to Khlat, the organization began its efforts to preserve the station in the northern coastal city three years ago. “We ask that any project to rehabilitate it [the station] preserve its architectural style, which is a French-style dating back to the 19th century,” Khlat said.
Khlat does not hide his concern for the aging equipment in the station, which includes important historic trains. According to him, the station has eight German trains dating back to the 19th and early 20th centuries.
Two of these are G7 model trains and were built in 1895, and four of them are G8 models dating back to 1901 and 1906. “The likes [of these trains] are being exhibited in museums, while here they are being eaten by rust and neglect,” Khlat said.
That’s why, he says, Friends of Tripoli Railway Station is campaigning to turn the station into a historical monument and wish to renovate it while preserving its heritage, including the Lions Tower, which was a workshop in the station.
“Unfortunately we lost the station’s clock which was especially built for it by Paul Garnier in 1906,” Khlat said. “We want a complete comeback for the station in a way that preserves its heritage and returns it to the map of transportation, as it used to employ over 350 employees.”
The two-day event at the station included a free guided tour led by volunteers and an open-air concert which included performances by bands from Beirut and Tripoli.
Activists and volunteers who were part of the campaign gathered around the station’s entrance to receive visitors who came from across the country, and distribute information leaflets.
Volunteers accompanied visitors on a tour of the station, offering information on the station’s history, while children were busy drawing trains, real and imaginary, in an area set aside for them.