[Two locomotives in Baghdad, photographed by Rick Degman]
DEM2803 and DEM2734 at Baghdad station. (R Degman)

Here are a selection of links to sources of more information about Iraq’s railway network.
I’ve listed some webpages about railways in other middle eastern countries which might be of interest on a separate page.

  1. Websites
  2. Books
  3. Magazines



  • The 8.55 to Baghdad by Andrew Eames who sets out to travel from London to Baghdad by train, following the route of the old Orient Express. Interwoven through his own experience, with the colourful cast of characters he encounters en route, is an identical journey made by Agatha Christie in 1928, … The modern journey from London to Baghdad by train is actually far harder to do today than it was in Agatha’s day.

    In the last days of peace before the Iraqi war I set out to re-trace this little known adventure in the life of Britain’s best-selling author. I quickly realised that London to Baghdad, by train, is one of those journeys which has defied the modern era by becoming far harder, and longer, than it was 75 years ago. My motley selection of eight ramshackle sleepers and local expresses took two days more than Agatha’s Wagon-Lits, and from Venice onwards there was no glimpse of a folded napkin, let alone a glass of chilled Bordeaux.

    Amazon link (I’m waiting for the paperback!).

  • From September 28 2003 to the end of February 2004 the German National Railway Museum in Nürnberg (Nuremberg) held an exhibtion on the Baghdad and Hedjaz railways. There is also a book Bagdad- und Hedjazbahn from Tümmel.
  • Hugh Hughes’ Middle East Railways has a chapter on Iraq, though it predates the expansion of the standard gauge network in the 1980s. This seems to be the definitive book on railways in the middle east.

  • Review of Distant Ties: Germany, the Ottoman Empire, and the Construction of the Baghdad Railway by Jonathan S McMurray. Amazon description and synopsis.


  • [Trains magazine July 2004 front cover]
    There is an entertaining article on day-to-day life with Iraq’s railways by Rick Degman in the July issue of Trains magazine. U.S. railroader in Iraq.
    Rockets’ red glare, bombs bursting in air, big money … and that’s just the drive to work! The inside story from the Mideast.
    The September 2004 issue contains a follow-up.
  • [Rail Passion 81 front cover]
    The May 2004 edition (issue 81) of the French magazine Rail Passion has an illustrated feature (in French) Irak, les trains de tous les dangers on Iraqi railways. Lots of good photos of the Chinese locos at work, and a description of a trip from Baghdad to Basrah. An on-line Microsoft Word document has some very similar but not quite the same text – perhaps an earlier draft? Loco.jpg and passager.jpg are two photos showing DEM2730, 2727 and a train interior.
  • The 10/2003 issue of this Bulgarian railway magazine has article (pages
    38-40) to mark 100 years since the start of work on the Baghdad Railway. As I can read precisely zero Bulgarian, I’ve no idea what it says…
  • The October 2003 issue of Railway Magazine has a letter asking about Iraqi railways, and a reply based on the article in the July issue of Trains.
  • Railway Gazette International had articles on Iraq in January 1990 and February 2000. The March 2004 issue has an article on rehabilitation of Iraq’s railways, which can be downloaded as a PDF.
  • The July 2003 issue of the US magazine Trains has a map and one-page article on Iraqi railways by David Lustig.
  • The May 2003 issue of the German railway magazine Eisenbahn Magazin has a two-page article Die Bahn Nach Bagdad (The Railway to Baghdad) about the history of the Baghdad railway project from 1888 to 1940.

    There is a follow up letter Besonderheiten der Dampfloks in the June issue. This says only 25 servicable steam locos survived in the 1970s. There is a photo of an unusual 2-6-0 loco, CFOA 208, which has an additional smaller wheel between the middle and rear driving wheels.

    Jean-Patrick Charrey e-mails to explain: This loco is part of batch that was delivered to the CFOA by Hanomag around 1912. Identical loco were delivered by Borsig. The Baghdad railway ordered also identical engines from the same manufacturers.

    Some of these locos where modified with a carrying axle between the middle
    and rear driving wheels. The purpose was to bring down axle load and use
    the engines on SCP and ORC lines around Izmir (these lines were lighter
    laid that CFOA’s).

    After WW1, these 2-6-0 ended up mostly in TCDD ownership (34001 to 34018). But some engines were transfered to the DHP (Syria) and others to the IRR.
    Interestingly, CFOA 208 is one of the two or three engines which are not
    accounted for (see Middle East Railways, Hughes H., Continental Railway Circle, 1981). My own guess was that 208 ended in Syria.

  • The Railway & Locomotive Historical Society’s Railroad History 188 includes features on Iraq, including First Person: Mystery Trains of the Persian Gulf.

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