Railways of Palestine and Israel, The by Paul Cotterell Dust Jacket 1984 150 Pgs

Railways of Palestine and Israel, The by Paul Cotterell Dust Jacket 1984 150 Pgs

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Railways of Palestine and Israel, The by Paul Cotterell Dust Jacket 1984 150 Pgs
The Railways of Palestine and Israel by Paul Cotterell Dust Jacket 1984 150 Pages
Ask the 'average' person in the street what he or she knows about the history of the railways of Israel and the replies are likely to vary. The hypothetical interviewee may guffaw dismissively, scowl suspiciously, or shrewdly tap his temple, thereby casting aspersion on the sanity of the questioner for having queried in the first place. "What history? What railways? !" All of which is by no means unknown to the railway enthusiast of many other countries, who labours under the double burden of condescension and disdain. In the case of Israel this attitude can possibly be explained by two things. Firstly, the railways here have never prospered except under the hothouse conditions of two world wars when, ironically, the public was largely unable to benefit - was, in fact, thoroughly discouraged in the use of its railways. Secondly, the railway network of Israel is still vaguely perceived (quite correctly) to be mainly a product of British enterprise and endeavour, and many Israelis retain an ambivalent view of the Mandate period when Britain injected much of practical good into the bloodstream of what was then Palestine, together with the toxin of bureaucratic ineptness and indifference. But whatever the socio-political reasons, the ignorance of the history of railways in Palestine and Israel is to be lamented, for the story is a fascinating one and tightly bound up with the turbulent modern history of the region. I hope that this present survey reflects some of that fascination.
The reader may wonder at the absence of any extended references to the Hedjaz Railway, especially so since Palestine Railways became responsible for the administration of much of the HR, including a large section within Palestine itself. However, Mr R Tourret is shortly to produce a book on the Hedjaz Railway and it would be both impertinent and superfluous to trespass too much on his 'right of way'. The present history is, indeed, meant to be read in conjunction with Mr Tourret's work by those who seek a closer acquaintanceship with the railways of Palestine and Israel.
The Middle East has been plagued of late by many upheavals of political and military nature, with consequent revisions of borders; more so than is generally realised. This was so even during the relatively stable period of later Turkish Ottoman rule. Rather than confuse an already quite bewildering succession of changes I have simplified the maps as far as possible, while attempting to preserve the broad sweep of historical progression.
I have also compromised over the vexed question of differences in the rendition of place names. Semitic languages have their peculiarities for the English speaker. Hebrew, for example, apart from being written in the 'wrong' direction (ie from right to left), contains no lettered vowels. Instead, a sort of morse code of dots and dashes is used to denote vowel sounds. More often than not, however, these are omitted and the learner is left to guess. Arabic is no less idiosyncratic. Hardly surprising then that the transliteration of place names from Hebrew and Arabic into English is not without its pitfalls, and over the years several different renditions of a particular place name have appeared. In the main text I have attempted to rationalise this veritable Babel of interpretations by using the place name spelling in general (but not universal) vogue during the period under discussion. This is by no means an entirely satisfactory solution and would cause a good deal of consternation to the scrutiniser of maps and other references both past and present - a confusion worse confounded when French and German sources are consulted. Where the spelling variations are greatly at odds then this has been shown by giving the alternative in parentheses.
Even this cannot cover all eventualities. The place names in the timetables in Appendix C have hardly been tampered with, for, after all, these varied renditions are all part and parcel of the railways' history.
In order that the non-specialist reader shall not be burdened with long lists of engine numbers etc, such minutiae have been relegated to the Appendixes.
With very few exceptions, the line drawings of locomotives and rolling stock have all been based upon general arrangement diagrams from the records of Israel Railways - most of these having been produced by IR draughtsmen and women. It is of particular interest to note that the diagrams of standard gauge freight vehicles were drawn since the formation of Israel Railways in 1948. This means that examples of even the earliest standard gauge goods wagons, which arrived in Palestine during the First World War, survived to be taken into IR stock. These old freight vehicles have not been entirely eradicated and can still provide the roving railway enthusiast with pleasant reminders of, say, Great Western Railway wagons or the inimitable profile of a Southern Railway brake van.
When I began research for this book I constantly wondered where the next item of information was coming from, such was the apparent paucity of material. But, as so often happens, one source led to another which, in turn, pointed to several more, so that I was eventually able to collect a great deal of information on the railways of Palestine and Israel. One particularly valuable source was the discovery of a vast number of old files at the top of the erstwhile water tower in Qishon workshops. Some of them date back more than half a century. Many are simply the records of individual employees and were of little help in my investigation, while others are inter-departmental memos of the greatest interest, and those I managed to salvage have been employed extensively in the telling of this story. These files have been almost totally disregarded, left to the depredations of mice and insects, before someone gets around to clearing them out for preservation or incineration. Elsewhere, such records of inestimable value would have been consigned to the safekeeping of a railway museum long ago. In Israel it is only very recently that action has been taken to set up such an institution, too late to save much that should not have been allowed to disappear.

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