The first railways in Libya consisted of a little over 200km of narrow (960mm) gauge lines radiating from Tripoli, constructed in 1912 by the then Italian colonial government. A further group of narrow gauge lines emerged around Benghazi, and was later extended. The last of these lines closed in 1965. A standard gauge line was constructed from Egypt as far as Tobruk during World War II but closed in 1946.
Around 1998, plans were announced for the opening of a new railway system, starting with a line from Tripoli to the Tunisian border. In 2001 it was reported that 60% of the earthworks were completed; however, these reports may have been somewhat optimistic. In any event, the project languished and no further progress was made.
In 2008 construction of two new standard (1435mm) gauge lines began: from Ras Ejder on the border of Tunisia, via the capital Tripoli and Al Khums to Surt (about 625km); and from a junction with the above line at Misratah, southwards to iron ore deposits near Sabha (about 800km). The following year work commenced on a another new standard gauge line, from Surt to Benghazi (about 554km), with consideration being given to a further 350km extension from Benghazi to Tobruk, and a possible eventual link to the Egyptian border.
All construction ceased with the revolution of 2011. In early 2014 the government Project Execution & Management Board invited registrations from companies interested in participation in the completion of the planned works.
Flag image from Wikimedia Commons