Amidst reconstruction frenzy in war torn Iraq and Syria,an ambitious inter-country railway project is underway to link the three nations of Iran,Iraq and Syria.
While Iran is spearheading the project,political authorities in Iraq and Syria are deeply involved with the Port of Latakia playing increasing host to Iranian railway technicians and experts.Reports indicated that as part of the three nations’ project,the Syrian government has contracted the Iranian team to reconstruct and revive her railways battered and destroyed during the war.
Railway line from Latakia port to outskirts of Damascus has been reactivated, with trains bringing Russian wheat in first consignment, @almodononline had reported March 26th.
“Linking Syra, Iraq and Iran by rail is one of the top priorities,” Syria Transport Minister Ali Hammoud said early this year.
A local newspaper, Kurdistan 24 reported that Iranian technicians and engineers are due to complete the Shalamcheh – Basra railway with a plan to eventually connect it to Syria’s Lattakia port,quoting an official in the Islamic Republic of Iran Railways (RAI).
“Since the Iraqis have stated that they cannot afford construction of the railway to Basra, the railway was decided to receive Iran’s financing which will be paid back by the Iraqi side later,” Deputy Head of RAI for Infrastructure and Technical Affairs Maziyar Yazdani said, quoted by Iranian Fars news agency.
He mentioned that the railway will link Shalamcheh in Iran to Iraq’s southern province of Basra and then to Lattakia port in northwestern Syria, stating that it would result in a major boost in transit of goods between Iran and Syria.
The agreement for the construction of the railway networks between Iran and Iraq dates back to 2014.
According to Yazdani, the Shalamcheh-Basra railway line will need only 32 kilometers of new track to connect existing railways, costing a total of 2,200 billion riyals (US $52,200).
After linking Iran’s railway to Basra, Iranian cities would then be connected to other central cities in Iraq, Minister of Roads and Urban Development Abbas Ahmad said.
“Iran’s railway system is linked to railways of Central Asia, China, and Russia and if the 32-kilometer Shalamcheh-Basra railway will be constructed, Iraq can transfer goods and passengers to Russia and China and vice versa,” he added.
The construction of the project comes as the US has recently imposed the second round of sanctions on Tehran, targeting the energy and financing sectors or Iran.
Experts believe the projects if completed will automatically merge the three countries with the Belt and road Initiative of China.