TEHRAN (Iran News) – The connection of the railway from Iran’s southwestern Shalamcheh town to Basra city in Iraq has been among the issues pursued by the governments of the two countries for many years.
The railway project has been faced several problems for many years, but it seems that with the changes that have taken place since last year it has entered a more serious phase.
For the first time in the Iranian calendar year 1390 (March 2011-March 2012), Iran and Iraq signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) for the construction of the Shalamcheh-Basra railway, which was not implemented.
In 1393, another MOU was signed between Tehran and Baghdad for the construction of this railway, according to which, Iran undertook to design and build a bridge over Arvand River, and the Iraqi side undertook to build a 32-kilometer railway from the Shalamcheh border to the Basra railway station on Iraqi soil.
Implementation of this project was followed up by the Iranian government, and in order to complete the Shalamcheh-Basra railway, the 17-kilometer Khorramshahr-Shalamcheh railroad project was completed in 2011 to connect the Iranian railway to Iraq, and it was decided to join the city of Basra.
However, due to some reasons, economic problems and a shortage of funds in Iraq, as well as legal problems in that country for granting land to Iran to construct the railway, the project was halted for ten years.
But now the current governments of the two countries seem more serious to construct this railroad, which will be a strategic event in the West Asia region.
During a visit of Iranian Minister of Transport and Urban Development Rostam Qasemi to Iraq, the two sides signed a deal on Monday for completing the Shalamcheh-Basra railway.
Elaborating on the details of the deal, Qasemi said: “The agreement has a clear timetable, and one of its clauses is that implementation of the project will actually begin within the next month.”
“For almost 20 years, we have had numerous negotiations with the Iraqi side to implement Shalamcheh-Basra railway, and there were even many memorandums signed in different periods, which never reached the desired result,” Qasemi said.
“We agreed to start the primary study and implementation of this project within the next month, which is practically a big step for Iran and Iraq to expand trade, and increase freight and passenger exchanges, which is important for both countries,” he added.
Qasemi noted that the Islamic Republic of Iran Railways (known as RAI) and the Iraqi Republic Railways will implement the project together and a joint venture will be established within two months.
By linking railways with Iran, Iraq is going to also access Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, and the northern regions, including the Caucasus, Central Asia, and the Far East.
Iran and Iraq have been taking significant steps for boosting economic relations in the past few years. The two countries are following up plans for increasing their bilateral economic trade to over $20 billion.
Shalamcheh-Basra railway can be very effective in the expansion of trade between the two sides.