Thursday, May 16, 2013

Railway Line between Jaffa and Jerusalem

In 1888, the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire granted a concession to Yosef Navon, a Jerusalem Jew, for building a railway line between Jaffa and Jerusalem. Due to a lack of financial resources, Navon transferred his rights to a group of French capitalists. Construction lasted about two and a half years, and on the 5th of Tishrei, 5653 (26.9.1892), the railroad was inaugurated. The first locomotives and cars were manufactured in the United States and purchased from the De Leseps company after it failed to dig the Panama Canal and went bankrupt. The railroad was 87 kilometres long with a narrow gauge of 100 centimetres. Following World War I, the tracks were adjusted to a standard gauge of 143.5 centimetres which is customary today.
At first, a daily train ran in each direction. The journey took three hours and fifty minutes. Later on, the ride .was reduced by twenty minutes and the trains were more frequent as well: two or three ran in each direction every day.

My friend Merja gave me this cover with the nice stamps on them, postmarked on 16.6.1992. There are 4 stamps in the series issued to commemorate the Jaffa-Jerusalem railway. Each stamp is divided into four parts, the following explanation of each stamp is given right to left:

NIS 0.85 stamp: Part of a drawing of the "Baldwin" engine (made in the United States, 1918); greasing the wheels of a steam engine; a diesel-electric locomotive of the type in service on the line today; a passenger train climbing the bends of the Soreq River on the way to Jerusalem. Above: a modern engine manufactured in USA (3000 hp). Below: a steam engine which was built in England in 1942 and taken out of service in 1958 (no. 70414).
NIS 1 stamp: a junction in Lod station; a mechanical signalling with semaphore arms in Lod station: an electric signalling board in Tel Aviv Central Station, which is meant to be joined to the Jerusalem line this year; a railroad layout map in Lod station. Above: A steam engine built in Scotland in 1935 (wheel classification 4-6-0). Below: one of the first five engines to operate on the line (2-6-0).
NIS 1.30 stamp: Part of the passenger timetable (1926); a train ticket for the Jaffa-Jerusalem line (before the founding of the State):a renovated passenger car; the interior of a passenger car. Above: a modern diesel locomotive (2000 hp). Below: A steam engine (0-6-0) and passenger cars that were built in England at the turn of the century. Some of the cars were in service until 1962.
NIS 1.60 stamp: Bar-Giora station; the railway station in Jaffa at the beginning of the century; a covered platform at Lod station; a frontal drawing of the station in Jerusalem. Above: one of the ten articulated railcar-sets which are due to arrive in Israel in the centennial year (1584 hp). Below: One of eleven railcar-sets built in Germany in the 1950's (1000 hp), which was taken out of service in the late '70s.

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