Sunday, December 6, 2015

Aleppo to Latakia Railroad


DY to u NAN
ALEPPO, Syria — (AP) Labor- I pierce several tunnels, with a to- puts the line through Raqqa in tal legth of about six miles, and central Syria where a spur would ers are slowly forging a new ' [erect several bridges. This is why run down to Deir ez Zor. Offic-Middle Eastern rail link which:the initial stretch will be so cost- ials even think of extending this will make the Syrian port of La-  takia a serious rival to the Leb-I yand take so much time. spur some day across the Iraqi anese port of Beirut East, from Aleppo. a decision desert to Baghdad, giving West-on the new railways' exact route ern Syria a inure direct line to Starting a few miles south of must await a decision on another the Iraqi capital. here on the existing north-south major Syrian economic develop- "Of course," said one official, line through Aleppo, the new rail- mein project, the proposed dam "our two countries (the UAR and way will eventually link this larg- or dams on the Euphrates river. Iraq) are not now on very friend-est city of Syria and its industrial Soviet engineers, under an old ply terms. But that situation won't center with Latakia 130 miles Russian aid agreement, are sur- last forever, and we must look away. I ve•ing sites. ahead and think of the needs of The tentative route to the east the future.
President Nasser of the United Arab Republic formally launched construction this year when he drove a symbolic first spike at the village of Oudehi, about 12 miles south of Aleppo, where the new line will swing out westward to the Mediterranean coast. Construction of such a railroad, coupled with the development of 1.atakia as an eastern Mediter-ranean port, has long been high on Syria's economic list. Nasser reaffirmed it when Egypt and Syria merged in the OAR two years ago. Yugoslav engineers are giving Latakia modern port facilities, and the rail line will fulfill the other half of the plan. The present project also calls for building a rail line from Aleppo eastward to Kamishli 320 miles away in the far northeast-ern corner of Syria at the Turk-ish border. This would open up the_ fertile and sparsely-settled regions of northeastern Syria to greater cul-tivation. It would give farmers there cheaper, more direct access to markets elsewhere in the UAR. Rut officials agree their first and more urgent task is to con-nect Aleppo with Latakia. The two cities now are connected only by highway. At present, much of Aleppo's commerce funnels south-ward to Beirut and Tripoli, an-other Leuanese port,( on the railroad which runs through lla-ma and Horns and then veers westward into Lebanon. This first stage is also the most difficult because of the moun-tainous terrain between here and the coast. Officials estimate the construction time at four or five years ,and the cost at 55 million dollars.
This figure represents half of E the total cost for building the I much longer eastern part of the new line from Latakia to Ham-ishli. Once the Latakia-Aleppo section is laid, it will be ..rela-tively simple to lay out a right-of-way to the cast across plains and desert. Officials say the whole line, totaling about 450 miles, can be finished in less than seven years.. 1 Before engineers and workers I can reach the coast, they must

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