Railway lines in Iraq

[Map of Iraq showing railway routes]

A map from the Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection of the General Libraries, University of Texas at Austin. I’ve highlighted the approximate course of the railways I know about. Don’t plan your trainspotting holiday based on it, though!

Large version of map.

The detailed map of the Iraqi railway network (PDF, 713KB) from the United Nations Joint Logistsics Centre (used with permission).

Lines

These are the lines which still (more or less) exist. There was formerly an extensive metre gauge network, which seems to have lasted until circa 1988(?) The standard gauge lines are not always on the same alignment as earlier metre-gauge routes.

Obviously transliterations of Arabic place names vary between sources, so the names mentioned might not be consistent.

Route Length Opened
Yurubiyah [El Yaroubieh] (on the Syrian border, on the route to Turkey) – Mosul [Al Mawsil] – Qayyarah – Baiji – Tikrit – Samarra – Baghdad 528
km
in stages 1939, 1940
Baghdad – Al Musayyib – Al Hillah – As Samawah – An Nasiriyah (for Ur, possible 30 km branch to Kut) – Al Basrah 541 km 1964-03-10 (freight)
1968-04-25 (passenger) Replaced earlier metre gauge line, not same route
Basra – Umm Qasr 68 km 1968-04-25
Baghdad – Al fallujah – Habbaniya – Al Ramadi East – Hit – Haqlaniyah – Anah – Al-Qaim – Qusaybah [Husaiba] (on the Syrian border at Abu Kamai) 516
km (376 in Cook’s, 404 RGI p892 Nov 1982)
c1987
al-Qaim – Askashat (carries phosphates to Al-Qaim) Summer 1981 (RGI Feb 1982/p638)
Haditha – Baiji – Kirkuk

(Baiji oil refinery to al-Qaim fertiliser plant)

252 km 1988, $960m
Ur – Nasiriyah? Possible branch?
Kirkuk – Arbil [Irbil] ?
Baghdad ring line 112km, 11km link to Central station Proposed
Baghdad – Ba’qubah – (Khanaqin) – Tawuq – Kirkuk A former metre gauge line, never rebuilt as standard

A correspondent writes (I’ll incorporate this in the table when I get time!):

In Haqlaniyah the line joins the Baghdad-Al Qaim (-Abu Kamal) line (a.k.a
BAARP – Baghdad – Al Qaim – Akashat – Railway Project). The village of
Haditha was originally intended to be the junction with KBH, but then the
design of the BAARP was changed to stop in Haqlaniyah rather than in
Haditha, without changing the name of KBH, however.

The additional km of the KBH is owing to a rerouting of the Mosul – Baghdad
line, which was shifted from the Al Siniyah Station to the new KBH-Baiji
Station.

Further few km are east of Baiji – a siding to the Salahuddin Refinery tanker storage yard and a siding to the Baiji Vegetable Oil factory near to the Tigris river. The refinery was destroyed in the 1991 Gulf War by UN Troops. Whether or not is had been restored since, is beyond my knowledge.

This is why you may have found in some sources 292 km rather than 252 km.

A groundbreaking ceremony was held in Baiji on February 8 1983. Ceremonial
inauguration of the KBH in the presence of the then Minister of Communication Mr Mohammed Hamza Al Zubaidi on November 7 1987 (not 1988).

Baghdad-Baquba-Kirkuk railway line. This line was taken out of service in 1987, because by opening the KBH-line Kirkuk was reached faster by using the new connection via Baiji.

Um Qasr

Statistics

Railway Directory 2001 has this to say about Iraqi Republic Railways:

“Railway construction in Iraq was begun in 1912 as part of the
projected Berlin – Istanbul – Baghdad Railway. The line between
Baghdad and Hsaiba on the Syrian border was compled in 1983, and the
Haditha – Kirkuk line opened in 1987.”

Traffic – information for the year 1997

Passenger 2.8m journeys

1 169m passenger-km

Freight 2.9m tonnes freight, 956m tonne-km

Route and Rolling Stock

Gauge 1 435 mm – 2 032 km

Diesel locomotives 382

Passenger coaches 434

Freight wagons 12 445

Employees 8 300

This is what the CIA World Fact Book has to say about Iraq’s railways:

Railways:

total: 2 339 km

standard gauge: 2 339 km 1.435 m gauge (2001)

4 thoughts on “Railway lines in Iraq

  1. Hello Andrew I worked in Baghdad from 1980 till 1985 and was lucky enough to ride on the old metre gauge from Baghdad to Khanaqin. Most of it on the footplate of an oil-fired steam loco which was I believe Indian built. It ran double-headed with a similar engine tender to tender. A wonderful experience which was organised by members of the ex-pat running club or Hash House Harriers of which I was a founder member. Being a bit of an anorak the footplate ride was a dream come true but I was surprised that the driver never notched the cut-off up, it ran in full forward or reverse all the time! The railway manager accompanied the boozy ensemble and was a lovely charming man, so proud of his railway. When I am home next month (I work in France) i’ll look out some photos I took not only of that but the scrap sidings in the north part of the city. Locos with makers plates from Newton-le-Willows and brass numbers all still in place! Thank you most warmly for the flood of memories your site has given me

    1. Alan, I had been in Iraq from 1984 – 190 and remember some rides with the old Railway up to Baquba. Was a wonderful experience. Maybe we met one at Block 34?

  2. I think I’ve contacted you before about the international link that was under construction between the Al Qu’im International station and Syrian Railways Euphrates Valley branch (from Deir ez-Zur and Aleppo-(Turkey)) which appeared near completion on the latest Google Earth imagery (23/3/15) though no advance since the Syrian Uprising. The route would form part of a shorter rail route from Europe to Iraq. Certainly the exchange yard earthworks with no track yet laid are shown just 3.5 km west from the Iraq Railways headshunt at Al Qu’im International station-not to be confused with the Al Qu’im Junction station 22km to the south east near the abandoned loco depot. Clearly the Syrians thought this a main line as much of the formation is double track even though only a single track has been built. The Euphrates bridge is clearly an impressive 5-span structure 30 km north of Al Qu’im International, though only completed as single track.

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