Iraq seeks to attract French companies to bid on the Baghdad elevated train project that will connect the main areas of the capital.
"The Baghdad elevated train project is very important given that it will considerably help ease traffic congestion on road networks in the capital," Baghdad Provincial Council chairman Kamil al-Zaidi told Mawtani. "It will make it possible for citizens to move around the areas of Baghdad easily without any delay."
Iraq wants to execute the train project according to the musataha leasing system, whereby one party has the legal right to lease and build for a fixed number of years. Under the system, both the company and Baghdad province will earn annual profits from the project, which will be transferred to the Iraqi state after 20 years.
The elevated train will also limit the use of fuel-operated vehicles, thus reducing environmental pollution. Reducing the number of cars on the road could also reduce the number of traffic accidents in the city.
Baghdad province sent an official delegation to Paris last week to examine the experience and expertise of French companies in building such projects.
The delegation consisted of Baghdad Deputy Governor Mohammed al-Shemari and representatives from the Iraqi parliament, al-Rasafa traffic directorate, Amanat Baghdad, the Public Roads Directorate and Baghdad Investment Commission, as well as a number of engineers and technicians.
Upon their return, the delegation members will submit a report to the provincial council presenting the results of their visit and the details of their consultations with French companies.
According to initial studies conducted by Baghdad Provincial Council, the trains will consist of four-to-six cars with a capacity of 250 passengers each. The maximum speed of the train will be 90 kilometers per hour and it will stay for about two minutes at each stop.
The train will move on 25-km long elevated tracks in two directions: the first will include seven areas -- al-Allawi, Bab al-Muazim, al-Adhamiya, al-Kadhumiya, al-Shaab, al-Ateefiya and al-Sadr City.
The other direction, which will be the second stage of the project, will include the areas of al-Jihad, al-Bayam al-Saydiya, al-Dorra and al-Zafaraniya.
Meanwhile, 15 dunams of land has already been allocated near al-Muthanna Airport in central Baghdad for constructing the first stop for the project. It will be the main hub for moving around the areas and neighborhoods of the capital.
Iraqi officials expect that the project will be completed by the end of 2013 if it is started by mid-2011. They also confirm that its annual revenues may exceed 86 billion dinars.
The estimated cost of the elevated train is $500 million, at a rate of $20 million per kilometer for the tracks, cars and all stops that will be built.
"The most important thing that distinguishes the elevated train project is the speed of its execution and its cost, which is less than the subway project that is executed underground," said Jawad al-Kharasani, media official at the Iraqi Ministry of Transportation's Public Railway Company.
Al-Kharasani said that upon the completion of the project, his company would train personnel to operate this kind of advanced train.
Baghdad residents encouraged the authorities to move ahead with the project.
"This means of transportation has considerably helped ease the problem of pedestrian and vehicle congestion on public streets and roads in other countries," said Amer Taqi, 34. "It has also helped citizens get to their destination quickly."
Salah Mahdi, 44, pointed out the urgency of improving transportation in Baghdad.
"The execution of these projects has now become an urgent need to ease traffic congestion resulting from the increasing population density in the capital and the spread of large numbers of cars," he said.