Iraqi passenger services in The Times

The Times had a couple of articles about passenger services in Iraq last week.

One is Iraq’s struggle to get railway back on track after neglect and war (14 April 2009). It seems the Baghdad – Dora commuter service is somewhat unsuccessful, but “Against the odds, the minister has reopened a nightly passenger route between Baghdad and Basra. A train also runs every Friday to Samarra, a holy city to the north of the capital, carrying pilgrims to its golden-domed shrine. Last month a weekly service resumed between Baghdad and Fallujah.”

In Taken for a ride in Baghdad… (13 April 2009) the newspaper’s Baghdad Correspondent, Deborah Haynes, decribes how the Ministry of Transport organised a press trip on the commuter train … but something wasn’t quite right about it.

In Baghdad, a Trip to Nowhere

In the 29 December 2008 story In Baghdad, a Trip to Nowhere Washington Post Staff Photographer Andrea Bruce takes a ride on the Baghdad commuter train.

At 5:30 a.m., everything is dark at the Baghdad Central Station. There are no passengers about, and most of the gates are still locked. The morning train, the only working train, leaves the station with a deep, heavy rhythm that vibrates through the six passenger cars. Only the engine has electricity. There are no lights.

A Baghdad commute is a collection of some quite artistic photos Bruce took of the trip – it’s not everywhere people skin sheep alongside comuuter lines.

Newsweek looks at reviving Iraq’s railways

Newsweek has a 19 December 2008 report A Railway’s Painful Rebirth by Jessica Ramirez.

There is another video of the Baghdad commuter service – including cab views, Chinese and Turkish built locos, sheep, and motorists with a cavalier attitude to level crossing safety.

… Iraq’s railways, which came to a halt during the war, have reopened two lines in the last two months. There is now a Friday train to Samarra and a commuter train, Baghdad’s first, which makes two round trips a day between the Central Baghdad Station and the District of Dora. Railway workers consider these the first signs of progress for an industry trying to recover from the looting, murders and bombings that ravaged it after the U.S-led invasion. In a larger sense, they also reflect the long-term impact of conflict and the struggle to get a country back on track.

Video shows Baghdad commuter trains

All aboard… Baghdad’s train is a December 10 2008 NBC news video about the re-launch of commuter rail services in Baghdad.

With traffic in downtown Baghdad typically a snarled mess, the old commuter train has been re-introduced to combat commuter nightmares. Ride the train with NBC News’ Kianne Sadeq as it dodges goats, cars and weaves through Baghdad.

There are shots of Chinese and Turkish locos in action on the service, which was introduced at the end of October.

I found the video via Commuter trains return to Baghdad at the National Association of Railroad Passengers, who say

Hopefully the system will be successful in the long term and symbolize normalcy and stability for weary residents, as well as deliver benefits to commuters tired of facing the hazards and inconveniences of road travel in the region.

Baghdad’s commuter train is beautiful but slow

All aboard the Baghdad Metro is an article by Tina Susman and Caesar Ahmed on the Los Angeles Times website.

Dated November 18 2008, it describes the recently introduced Iraqi Republic Railways commuter service in Baghdad, with a simple map.

Despite the story’s title, it is about an Iraqi Republic Railways “mainline” rail service, not a “metro” as such. A metro was proposed for Baghdad in the past, but not built.

“If this succeeds, I think they’ll open more lines inside Baghdad,” says Thafir Salim, the engineer [train driver] on the route, which leaves the main station and weaves about 15 miles through west and south Baghdad on just two round-trip journeys a day: one in the morning and one in the afternoon.

There are six photos. Some show a Dalian DEM 2700 mainline locomotive, which seem to appear in most of the photos of IRR which I’ve seen, but some of the LA Times pictures seem to show a Tülomsas Bo-Bo diesel-hydraulic loco.

“It’s beautiful, but it’s slow,” says Mohammed Ali, a Baghdad University student who normally takes the taxi from his Dora home to school. But the first-time rider says he will keep taking it. “I think it’s more secure than the taxis,” he says. “What’s good here is there are no checkpoints, no traffic, no explosions.”

Baghdad commuter service starts up

Various news sources report the [re-?]start of commuter rail services in Baghdad at the end of October, which is good news.

AP has some photographs, A train arrives at al-Alawi railway station, central Baghdad, Iraq, on Thursday, Oct. 30, 2008, showing DEM2727.

Baghdad Central station in 2005 (Photo by Mark Hemphill)

Commuter rail trains running in Baghdad to relieve traffic jams

by Fu Yiming, Jamal Hashim

The 25-kilomter commuter rail, a section of an old railway which had been damaged by the war and stopped running for years, came into operation just a few days ago.

It shuttles between central Baghdad and the mostly Shiite neighborhood of Kazimiyah north of the capital or the mainly Sunni suburb of Yousifiyah in the south, which makes a handful of stops in both Sunni and Shiite neighborhoods. A ticket costs 1,000 Iraqidinars (equivalent to 80 cents).

“The train is faster than cars, it avoids stopping in traffic jams and dozens of checkpoints that people obliged to pass through,” a Transport Ministry official said on condition of anonymity.

At the main station in Allawi area in central Baghdad, metal detectors and body search conducted by male and female security members are set at several checkpoints.

There are also walls that protect the railroad along with security forces protecting main and some stops for the train.

The anonymous Transport Ministry official said that “there are no security problems among those Sunni and Shiite districts, because situation is calm now” and there are also walls that protect the railroad along with security forces protecting main and some stops for the train, “but everybody knows that there is no 100 percent of guarantee for safety, not in every place in the world.”
Source: Xinhua

The official Iraqi Republic Railways website gives a timetable, but it doesn’t survive a Google translation:

News is very important

The company of the Iraqi Basthat railway line to transport people

As “the 10-27-2008 works on the side of Karkh to train
Services and absorb the momentum off in the Karkh side of the station
Central at 5.35 am, “passing” Mansour station at 5.50
And the field or drums session at 6.12 and the Abu Dshir to station
Yusufiya train at 6.25 am. “And leave the station for Yusufiya”
Baghdad at 6.50 am, “and hit the Abu Dshir 7.07 pm
Morning “and reach the station at 7.10 and 7.25 Mansour up station
Morning, “as up to the train station Kadhimiya at 7.50 am.” And again
Passenger b at 2.45. Aa train station Kadhimiya through “station
Mansour train at 3.09 b. And an AM or drums session at 3.27
B. AA and the Abu Dshir, to close at 3.45 b Yusufiya. Aa.
And re-boarding the train station at 4.00 pm Yusufiya, “passing”
Abu Dshir area in order “to the train station at 4.15 pm”
Access “to the train station at 4.46 pm Mansour” and up to station
Central Baghdad at 4.45 pm. ”

Fare (1000) thousand dinars only
Source: Iraqi Republic Railways.