Travel In Israel In 1892 Via Train

Jewish history website 29-08

There were many attempts to lay railway tracks to connect Israel’s two major cities , Jaffa and Jerusalem. In the nineteenth century, Sir Moses Montifiore, as early as 1839 proposed the idea. But convincing the Turkish authorities and finding sufficient funding for the project was a formidable task, and he as well as others, abandoned the idea.
The man who ultimately laid the tracks for the train was a Jerusalemite Jew named Joseph Navon. Joseph, a Sphardic Jew was born in Jerusalem in 1858 and was involved in many important building projects inIsrael. In order to lay the groundwork for the railway, Navon moved to Istanbul for four years to make connections with Turkish officials who would ultimately permit him to lay railway tracks between the two major cities in the Holy Land. On the 27th of August, 1892, the first passenger train arrived from Jaffa at the Jerusalem station. It was met with tremendous excitement and exhilaration by the crowd that had gathered at the station. The train line made a massive impact on tourism and population growth in both cities as well as the on the building, physical and medical conditions of Jerusalem.
Since that historic day, railways have crisscrossed the Holy Land. Today the Israel Train Company has 400 passenger trains running daily and transports over 40 million passengers each year. In addition it operates 150 freight trains daily, hauling over 120 tons of freight every day.
There are also inner city trains. The Light Rail in Jerusalem is one the 5 planned lines that allow for quick and convenient travel in the city. It serves both Moslem and Jewish neighborhoods allowing them to reach the city center and the Old City quickly and easily. In Haifa, the Carmelit is Israel’s only presently existing subway. Named for the Carmel mountain range through which it runs, is a funicular subway. The cars run on cables with those going downhilll counterbalancing those going uphill and, thus, conserving energy. The third inner-city rail is in the process of being constructed in Tel Aviv. It is the first of eight planned lines to connect the many metropolises that make up the Tel Aviv hub.
If only the crowds that waited for that first train to come rolling in to the Jerusalem station could see us now.

Published: August 29, 2015
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