The International Steam Pages

Steam in the Middle East 2022

I was amazed to see that the last report I had for Saudi Arabia on this site was from 2007. For the background to what is here, you will need to trawl the links on my Asia (West) index page under Jordan and Saudi Arabia.

This report is from Kevin Hoggett and refers to two visits to the area in late 2022.


Amman: We (with Ffestiniog Travel) were promised a steam train to Quatrana, but this was shortened to Jiza and worse, was diesel hauled. They said it was due to the track and the diesel had a lighter axle load. They did steam Japanese pacific no 81 for us in the station at Amman. A new railway museum building is under construction (a present from Turkey they said) and it seems a contractor has been appointed to upgrade the line to the airport (near Jiza) to use it as a rapid transit link. I think we could have seen the last steam working there. Further south, at Wadi Rum, we had a charter train on a short section of the Aquaba branch. The phosphate trains ceased in 2019 and this is the only thing running. The train is mostly diesel, but for us they steamed Japanese pacific no 85 which happily is no longer pushed by a diesel with fake smoke and sound as was the case in the past. Ffestiniog had run a second tour a few weeks previously and that group had the same experiences.


Saudi Arabia:

This PTG tour was mainly for modern traction fans and track bashers, but we did have a look at the remains of the Hedjaz Railway: In Tabuk there is a museum (didn't visit it) with a Tubize 0-6-0T. The station site at Madain Sala is being re developed as a hotel. Entry was impossible. We could see the 2-8-0 and wagons still outside the station, but the locomotive shed which had been a museum had no doors or window frames. It wasn't possible to see if the 2-6-0 was still there (A local guide said it had been taken away.) Further south at Hedia, the derailed Krauss 0-6-0T loco has had its firebox cut off and stolen by scrap thieves. Several wagons have also been completely or partly scrapped. This is also the case of the two 2-8-0s abandoned at remote locations further north, There is almost nothing left of these locos. The 2-8-0 and train at Buwair station is still intact and fenced off. This is a busier location next to the main road. At the terminus at Medina, the railway museum hasn't re opened since Covid. The history museum in the station building is open, and the station yard is open after 16.00. We got access to the yard, but they claimed that no one had a key to the shed. We managed to photograph the three restored locomotives inside through broken windows and key holes. Another 2-8-0 is outside in the yard with its tender on an adjacent track. Also several restored items of German and Belgian built stock.

Rob Dickinson