Iran, Iraq to start building cross-border railway

Iran, Iraq to start building cross-border railway
Iran and Iraq signed an agreement on Monday to start construction on a new railway project
2 min read
28 December, 2021
The railway will connect Iraq's Basra to the Iranian border town of Shalamcheh [Getty- archive]

Iran and Iraq signed an agreement on Monday to finally begin the construction of a new railway to connect the neighbouring countries.

The Islamic Republic of Iran Railways and Iraqi Republic Railways companies agreed to establish a joint venture within two months to oversee the project, Iran's state-run news agency reported.

The new railway will connect Basra, southern Iraq's largest city, to the small western Iran town of Shalamcheh, only 30 km away.

The project has been discussed for years, and work on it was set to begin last year.

The deal was signed during a visit to Baghdad by Iranian Transport and Urban Development Minister Rostam Qasemi.

"For almost 20 years, we have had numerous negotiations with the Iraqi side to implement the Shalamcheh-Basra railway, and many memorandums were signed in different periods, which never reached the desired result," Qasemi said.

He said the aim of the railway was to expand trade, increase freight, and up the number of passengers between the two sides.

Once the railway is completed, rail travellers from Iraq will have easier access to Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, and beyond, according to the minister.

While the two countries share close political and economic ties, Iran has for years armed and funded Shia militias in Iraq, which has reeled under chaos as a result of decades of conflict.