TEHRAN- The connection of the railway from Iran’s southwestern Shalamcheh town to Basra city in Iraq has been among the issues pursued by the governments of the two countries for many years.
Iran and Iraq have been taking significant steps to boost economic relations in the past few years. The two countries are following up plans for increasing their bilateral economic trade to over $20 billion.
Shalamcheh-Basra railway can be very effective in the expansion of trade between the two sides.
The completion of the Shalamcheh-Basra railway, in addition to the jump in trade between Iran and Iraq, will provide access to other countries located in the east of the world through Iran’s railway lines to the western half and the countries of the Mediterranean basin.
For the first time in the Iranian calendar year 1390 (March 2011-March 2012), Iran and Iraq signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) for the construction of the Shalamcheh-Basra railway, which was not implemented.
In 1393, another MOU was signed between Tehran and Baghdad for the construction of this railway, according to which, Iran undertook to design and build a bridge over Arvand River, and the Iraqi side undertook to build a 32-kilometer railway from the Shalamcheh border to the Basra railway station on Iraqi soil.
Implementation of this project was followed up by the Iranian government, and in order to complete the Shalamcheh-Basra railway, the 17-kilometer Khorramshahr-Shalamcheh railroad project was completed in 2011 to connect the Iranian railway to Iraq, and it was decided to join the city of Basra.
However, due to some reasons, economic problems and a shortage of funds in Iraq, as well as legal problems in that country for granting land to Iran to construct the railway, the project was halted for ten years.
But since 2021, the governments of the two countries have become more serious about constructing this railroad, which is a strategic event in the West Asia region.
Finally, after a long delay, the constriction operation of the railway was officially started on Saturday morning in a ceremony attended by Iran’s First Vice President Mohammad Mokhber, Transport and Urban Development Minister Mehrdad Bazrpash, and Iraq’s Prime Minister Mohammed Shayya’ Al-Sudani at the border zero point of Shalamcheh.
Addressing the mentioned ceremony, Iran’s first vice president said, “Today, we have gathered in this place to witness the start of one of the most important joint projects between Iran and Iraq, which will affect the entire region. I express my satisfaction that today, together with the prime minister of Iraq, we started the railway connection of the two countries at this point and developed the railway infrastructure for the expansion of trade and economic cooperation.”
“The nations of Iran and Iraq have very good historical, civilizational, and religious relations; But the value of current trade between the two countries is not at the level expected by the parties. On the other hand, the activation of this process will guarantee Iraq’s complete access to Iran’s neighboring countries, including the Caucasus and Central Asia”, the official added.
The completion of the Shalamcheh-Basra railway is actually a plan to connect the two shrines, which provides a direct line for the pilgrims from Atabat Aliyat (the shrines of Shia Imams which are in four cities of Iraq) to Mashhad (where the shrine of Imam Reza is located) and vice versa, according to Mokhber.
As reported, the Shalamcheh-Basra railway line, which is 32 kilometers long, will be ready for operation in 18 months. 16 km of this line will be built in Iran and 16 kilometers in Iraq.
According to Miad Salehi, the managing director of the Islamic Republic of Iran Railways (known as Rai), the cargo capacity of this railway is between 8 and 10 million tons and its passenger capacity is 12 million people.
The high volume of goods exported from Iran to Iraq has caused the issue of transportation infrastructure between the two countries to be of great importance, and according to experts, with the construction of the Shalamcheh-Basra railway, the income of the Iranian Railways will increase significantly.
Also, with the construction of this railway line and the completion of the Shalamcheh-Karbala route, Iran’s railway will be connected to Iraq and from there to the port of Latakia in Syria, and it is expected that a good amount of cargo will come from Syria to Iran.
On the other hand, the prosperity of pilgrimage trips, as well as the growth and development of tourism, is the other advantage of completing the Shalamcheh-Basra railway, while a significant reduction in fuel consumption compared to the road transport, is another advantage of the implementation of this project.
Photo: Iran’s First Vice President Mohammad Mokhber (L) and Iraq’s Prime Minister Mohammed Shayya’ Al-Sudani shake hands in a ceremony to start construction of the Shalamcheh-Basra railway on Saturday
Original News : https://www.tehrantimes.com/news/488628/Strategic-railway