The Iraqi Railroad Company is preparing to import locomotives and carriages to transport passengers and goods, and to open new domestic lines after the rehabilitation of some old locomotives.
The chairman of the Central Transportation Division of the Iraqi Railroad Company Abdul Al-Amir Hammoud said, “The Council of Ministers approved the purchase of modern locomotives and carriages to transfer citizens and goods.” Hammoud did not disclose the number or the date of the delivery of the locomotives.
Hammoud explained, “Signing the deal does not mean the delivery of locomotives. It might take three to four years to build these locomotives. The Railroad Company has rehabilitated some railway lines operating in Iraq, to link Iraq with neighboring countries including Iran, Jordan, and the Gulf states.”
Hammoud said, “The Railroad Company is rehabilitating the old locomotives to open new lines. There are 20 carriages ready to transfer passengers, oil derivatives, and grains.”
Hammoud added, “The Railroad Company used to own over 150 vehicles before 2003, but after the looting and sabotage we could only salvage 20 vehicles.”
Hammoud said, “Train operations stopped completely after 2003, due to vandalism, theft and the bad security situation. But after the rehabilitation of some railway lines, and fixing some carriages, we were able to schedule two trips per day to Basra early this year. We are also planning to run trains to the city of Al-Qaim at the Syrian border.”
On the rehabilitation of existing railway lines, Hammoud said, “We are planning to link Umm Qasr with Baghdad, and then link Baghdad to the Rabia area in Mosul. We are waiting on the iron bars for the railway lines to be delivered from the countries contracted for this project. We had to import all the iron bars because the concrete grid factory is not operational, but there is a plan to reopen the factory again.”
Hammoud added, “The lines that can work now are Kirkuk - Al-Aklania and Al-Qaim - Baghdad. The Mosul - Baghdad and Basra - Baghdad lines need maintenance.”
Hammoud said, “Iraq is linked to Europe via the Baghdad - Rabia line, then to Syria. There is a future project to link Iraq with Iran and the Gulf States, in addition to linking Jordan and Iraq. The line of Baghdad - Syria is currently used for the transfer of goods.”
Hammoud said, “There are some obstacles in linking Iraq with Iran right now, including the building of a giant bridge on the Shatt Al-Arab, where construction will require at least two years. The line of Baghdad – Basra transfers between 300-400 passengers a day.”
Hammoud added, “Our trains move between 3000 to 3500 tons of oil derivatives per day. There are contracts with the Ministry of Trade to transport grain from the Umm Qasr port in Basra to Baghdad.”
The first railway in Iraq was formed in September 1916, under the control of British military forces. The railway control was moved to the Iraqi government on April 16, 1936 and became known as Iraqi Railways.
The total length of the main railroad line is 1910 kilometers, while the length of the secondary line is 362 kilometers.