France’s Alstom has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Iraq’s Transport Ministry to develop a high-speed railway line running between Baghdad and Basra.

“This agreement opens the way for co-operation between both parties with the objective of signing a turnkey contract for the construction of the Baghdad-Basra rail line,” says a spokesman for Alstom.

The line will be a 650-kilometre high-speed railway line that will enable trains to travel up to speeds of 250km an hour. It will also link the cities of Mussayeb, Karbala, Najaf, Samawa and Nasiriya. The railway will also eventually link with Umm Qasr.

The line will be a 650-kilometre high-speed railway line that will enable trains to travel up to speeds of 250km an hour

In January, Alstom also signed an agreement with Baghdad Municipality to discuss the possibility of signing a contract build the estimated $600m Baghdad Elevated Train project (MEED 24:1:11). The project involves building a line that runs for 25 kilometres on a viaduct, which is aimed to reduce congestion in the city. It will link the areas of Al-Mustansiriya and Alawi al-Hilla in central Baghdad.

The French government will pay between 50-60 per cent of the total project cost. The remainder will be financed through a low-interest loan from a French government-run bank that will be repaid over 20 years. The project was launched in July 2010.

This is a separate project to the $3bn Baghdad metro project.