Iraq Republic Railways (IRR) is working with the Transport Ministry to develop an extensive high-speed rail network across the country.

Speaking at MEED’s Iraq Infrastructure Projects 2011 conference in Istanbul, director of railways for IRR Helal Alqurayshi said that the network will cross two main routes; the eastern route, which will run from the south of the country to the north, and the western route which will run from the south to the west.

Speaking on the sidelines of the conference, Helal Alqurayshi said that the new high-speed lines will not be competitively tendered but rather negotiated on a one-to-one basis with developers.

The selected developers will be responsible for financing, procuring and constructing the projects. The developers will be paid after the assets are operational either as a single payment or in installments under a deferred payment structure.

The high-speed network will comprise the following routes with line distance and project costs:

  • Mosul-Duhok-Zakho: 167-kilometre double track; $2.157bn
  • Baghdad-Ba’qoba-Kirkuk-Irbil-Mosul: 555km double track; $1.674bn
  • Baghdad loop: 140km; $2bn
  • Baghdad-Kut-Amara-Basra: 504km double track; $6.1bn
  • Basra-Fao: 101km double track; $1.2bn
  • Basra-Shalamja: 35km single track; $400m
  • Kut-Ba’qoba: 250km double track; $3bn
  • Kirkuk-Sulaimaniya: 118km single track; $1.5bn
  • Baghdad-Mussaeb-Karbala-Najaf-Samawa-Nasiriya-Basra-Umqasr: 663km; $10bn
  • Karbala-Ramadi: 132km double track; $1.5bn
  • Ramadi-Terebil: 420km single track; $2.3bn

Plans for an ambitious railway programme to add to the existing 1,906km network have been under consideration for nearly 30 years. Alqurayshi said that the original plans were drawn up in 1983 and 1985. As a result, plans for many of the planned routes need to be updated. Several European companies are currently working on the updating the plans.