The Iraqi Transport Ministry is expected to invite foreign companies to bid for the contract build a $3bn rail network in Baghdad later this month, as part of plans to improve the country’s freight and passenger transport system.

Further details are due to be released within days. The plan is expected to involve a line looping around the capital that will link to lines connecting Baghdad to other provinces and neighbouring countries, according to local media reports.

The project is expected to take four years to complete.

The winning contractor will also build two main passenger stations, one in the west and one in the east of Baghdad.

The network will be able to transport 23 million passengers each year and 46 million tonnes of freight.