Plans for Kurdistan Region railway network get into gear
A Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) ministry has announced plans for an inter-province railway for the Region, as part of a wider regeneration of the Region’s transport network.
“One of the plans of the reconstruction ministry in the next four years will be the extension of railways to the Kurdistan Region,” Dana Abdulkarim, Minister for Housing and Reconstruction.
“Railway is topping the plans” for the ministry’s four-year agenda, he emphasized. “We want to give the Kurdistan Region its own railway system,” he said.
While plans for a railway system in the Region are novel, a revitalization of Iraq’s railway network, left to crumble during the era of US-imposed sanctions during the 1990s, has taken place over the past few years.
A revival of the Fallujah-Baghdad railway route was completed in 2018, while $137 million was spent on 12 new trains from China in 2016. Work to reopen links to the north of Baghdad is continuing.
The lack of a railway system has placed an untenable strain on the Region’s road network, whose narrow roads are buckling under traffic pressures.
Investment made in the repair and expansion of the Region’s roads over the past decade has not significant enough to deal with the Region’s notoriously precarious roads. As such, plans have also been made by the ministry for wide scale road repair.
Narrow roads and poor lighting make overtaking vehicles a dangerous pursuit, with around 850 people are killed and over 10,000 injured in traffic related accidents in Kurdistan Region every year, according to the KRG’s Ministry of Health.
Plans are at a very early stage, Abdulkarim said, with its details to be revealed to the public at a later date. Their finalization would require the input and agreement of multiple ministries, followed by their submission to the Council of Ministers for approval.