The railway line that will go on to connect Iraq with Turkey has started to take shape. The design of the route has been done as per the Iraqi Ministry of Transport. The railway line, which is going to be 1175 km long, will begin from the southern port of Faw in Iraq to Mersin, the Turkish port on the Mediterranean Sea.
It is just another way forward in the megaproject. The Iraqi ministry had earlier said that it intends to begin building the new rail line as early as 2024. The feasibility study is already in place, and the project has been awarded to Alstom. The ministry is now studying the railway line’s design.
The new rail connection to Turkey could go on to change Iraq’s position on the transportation landscape. Once over, it could very well become a new overland route for goods coming from the southeast to Europe. This requires the Faw port development, which is quite well understood by Iraq. The port is currently under construction so as to become one of the world’s largest container terminals.
The rail corridor through Iraq will be a stretch of 1200 km and will pass through Diwaniya, Basrah, Karbala, Najaf, and Mosul before reaching Turkey. The project will have a dual line for passenger as well as freight trains and will also be electrified so as to run high-speed trains. Freight train will initially have a capacity of 3.5 mn containers and 22 mn tonnes of bulk cargo annually and will be enhanced in phases to 7.5 mn containers and 33 mn tonnes annually.
Overland freight transport from the south towards the north has become increasingly significant as trade flows have begun to shift. The fact is that the importance of India as an export nation is on the rise. This is pretty much evident with the rise of interest in the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC), which is between Mumbai and Russia. That said, the region in between is not free of turmoil. The transit route between Azerbaijan and Iraq is still not a good idea with the unrest in the Caucasus, thereby not helping the cause of beginning the operations soon. With this new railway line from one more port in the Arabian Gulf, a new transit route will become operational.
However, Iraq too is not free from turmoil, and it is indeed going to be long before the trust of customers is gained. Taking into account the long-term time frame, the port is expected to receive its first ships by 2025, thereby giving time to the logistics sector to consider a very new possibility.