An old railroad track is seen in Beirut, Friday, July 18, 2014. (The Daily Star/Mohammad Azakir)
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Despite reports that the government had renewed its interest in rebuilding the rail line between Beirut and Tabarja, the closest anyone is likely to come to buying a ticket is still an evening drinking $9 vodka tonics at an exclusive bar that opened recently in the historical Mar Mikhael train station.The train was in the headlines this week after Beirut MP Mohammad Qabbani, who heads Parliament's Public Works, Transport, Energy and Water Committee, announced that his committee and the Public Works and Transportation Ministry were looking into reviving the train, as well as buying between 200 and 250 buses – a perennial government promise since 2004 .According to Maalouf, the study put the cost of the Beirut-Tabarja line at approximately $250 million, and concluded that it would pay for itself after seven years.In fact, Nasr told The Daily Star in an interview in May that the authority operates on an annual budget of LL14 billion, with LL12 billion going toward salaries for some 370 employees.Maalouf said he had little faith in either the ministry or Parliament, noting that the latter approved the $56 million Jal al-Dib bridge, despite reservations expressed by experts, while failing for 10 years to deliver on promises to invest in more buses, which he estimated would cost $36 million.
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