Iraqi railway history

[Poster advertising the Taurus Express]

This a page of random odds and sods, rather than a real history, I’m afraid.

Railway poster

The book Middle East Railways by Hugh Hughes mentions that: A very interesting metre-gauge link was established at Maqil in December 1943 … The line led to exchange sidings at Tanuma on the east bank from where a standard gauge railway was built to the Iraqi border and on to join the Iranian system. This link closed July 1945. The Iranian line
(operational from 1943 to 1945) ran to a junction at Hoseyniyeh with
the Ahwaz – Khorramshahr line (commssioned in May 1942).

Odds from the Iraq entry in Encyclopædia Britannica:

  • German firms were awarded a concession to build a railway from Anatolia to Baghdad before WWI. Britain protested, in case it threatened British interests.
  • The Iraqi government purchsed the railways from British control in 1935 [March 1936, according to Middle East Railways]. The Baiji Tal – Kucuk section, the final missing link between the Gulf and Europe, was completed in 1938.
  • A 340 mile line has been constructed by a Brazilian company to link up with Syrian railways

Railway construction began in Iraq in 1902, part of the Berlin – Baghdad project, seen as a standard gauge through route. After the British invasion of 1914, Basra – Baghdad was built with surplus metre gauge equipment from India, and Iraq has a similar length now of both gauges. 2 529 km, 19 steam locos, 163 Diesels, 4 DMUs, 240 carriages, 3 280 wagons, 1 377 staff.
World Atlas of Railways (OS Nock, 1978)

3 thoughts on “Iraqi railway history

  1. I found this site whilst looking at Wilhelm Von Siemens,and the Berlin to Iraq railways,this then led me on to the Baghdad railway,I find this an exciting part of History.

  2. I note that Lieut Leon Victor Pont, IARO, who had been attached 36th Jacob’s Horse from 10 June 1916, but had disappeared by the July 1918 Indian Army List, was attached Railway Battalion, Sappers & Miners from 11 April 1918 to March 1920, for Iraq.
    He was awarded the GSM clasp “IRAQ”. He was a District Signal Engineer, E. B. Railway (Capt., IARO) and a Volunteer officer with the V.D.
    Kindest regards,
    Kimberley John Lindsay.

  3. Dear Sir,
    I was very interested to come across this site. My grandfather, Lawder Smith was a district engineer on ISR from the early 1930’s and my step grandfather Harry Cyril Smith was director general until his retirement in the early 1950’s. Any further information about this period would be most interesting. We have two blankets from this era with the IRS motif emblazoned.
    With regards,

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