The train departed from Baghdad Central Railway Station at 9am, completing the 560km journey to Basra in time for the official handover of control in the southern province to Iraqi forces later that day

The Baghdad-Basra line was built in 1917. The service was discontinued as a result of the surge in sectarian violence following the US-led invasion. The track has recently been refurbished as part of ongoing plans to reopen the country’s rail network.

“The security situation in Iraq is getting better day after day and as this happens we increase our efforts to rebuild the transport system,” says Bangen Rekani, acting minister for transport in Iraq. “The start of this new rail service between Baghdad and Basra is a good example of this.”