Troop Train (song) قطار الجنود

 In Egypt, Vignettes

The last in this trio of posts concerns another old piece that popped into my head today. I’ve just dug it out in a book of song lyrics from one of Nasser’s favourite songsters Salah Gahin. This is a stirring patriotic song about the Suez War of 1956. It’s too late at night to write in full, but it starts (my translation):

O eleven o’clock train
ياوابور الساعة حداشر
garlanded with roses

roses smelling of battles
bringing victory on the borders
roses of the spring of freedom

thousands, thousands, thousands,
In Bab el-Hadid Square*
Millions, and yet a surplus
as far as Port Said
Damascus, Algiers,
and Morocco and Baghdad…

[And it ends]

O eleven o’clock train
ياوابور الساعة حداشر
You whose whistles are trills of joy.
ياصفارتك زغاريد

*Bab el-Hadid being the historic name for Cairo Station, with associations going back to Saladdin (Salah el-Din).

Cairo Central square


From April to November 2013 I kept a news blog about Egyptian Railways, where I translated and summarised articles from the Egyptian (Arabic) press and posted them in English. This was through the period of the dissolution of the Muslim Brotherhood government, after which train services were suspended for many weeks. This is one of a small number of the 150 blog posts I wrote during that time. 

If you have any stories about railways or the Middle East in general that you would like help to write or publish, please get in touch.

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El Alamein new station platform, starter semaphores, track view and east signal box 2013.Courtesy BBC.Cairo Central square