Iraq transforms its transport infrastructure

Iraqi railway director discusses projects, including Saudi connection for pilgrimages

BAGHDAD, September 14 — Yousef Al-Kaabi, the Director of Iraqi Railways, has announced a railway project aimed at connecting Iraq to Saudi Arabia to facilitate the transportation of pilgrims during Hajj and Umrah, with preliminary discussions already underway with the Saudi side. Additionally, he provided a comprehensive overview of currently operational railway lines and ongoing efforts in designing and soil testing for a massive rail project set to connect Iraq to Turkey and the European Union.

Al-Kaabi spoke with journalist Ali Halim and mentioned that before 2003, Iraq had a railway network spanning 2,000 kilometers, connecting various parts of the country. However, due to war and terrorism, many of these networks were severed, leaving only the Basra-Baghdad railway operational for the transportation of goods and passengers.

Iraq is conducting a railway revitalization project across the country, with active projects in the north, south, east, and west of the country. A number of disrupted lines have been brought back into operation including freight trains that are now transporting petroleum derivatives from Umm Qasr in Basra to Nineveh, and from the Baiji refinery in Salah Al-Din. Passenger lines have also resumed, such as the Baghdad-Fallujah route.

Al-Kaabi revealed various ongoing projects, including the construction of bridges over the Tigris River to reduce travel distances in Samawah and the establishment of a new station in Mosul in collaboration with the Nineveh Governorate. Efforts are also underway to transport wheat from silos in Umm Qasr Nasiriyah, Samawah, Hillah, and Anbar, with plans to extend the route to Shirqat.

Regarding the Development Road project, Al-Kaabi stated that initial designs for the railway, which will connect Iraq to Turkey, are underway. A roadmap for the accompanying high-speed road alongside the railway has been established and an Italian company is working on feasibility studies. Preliminary designs for various sections have been completed and soil testing is being conducted from Al-Faw Port northward toward the Iraqi-Turkish border. Collaboration between the governorates and ministries is ongoing to finalize the designs, as the project is set to reshape Iraq’s transportation landscape.

Al-Kaabi also mentioned a railway project to connect Iraq with Saudi Arabia for the purpose of transporting pilgrims during Hajj and Umrah. Preliminary discussions are ongoing, and Iraq sees this as an opportunity to become a transit route for neighboring countries heading to the holy lands in Saudi Arabia, potentially further boosting Iraq’s economy.

He emphasized the clear interest of the government in the railway sector, with the Prime Minister personally overseeing some projects, including the Development Road.