ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Iranian technicians and engineers are due to complete the Shalamcheh – Basra railway with a plan to eventually connect it to Syria’s Lattakia port, an official in the Islamic Republic of Iran Railways (RAI) said on Sunday.
“Since the Iraqis have stated that they cannot afford construction of the railway to Basra, the railway was decided to receive Iran's financing which will be paid back by the Iraqi side later,” Deputy Head of RAI for Infrastructure and Technical Affairs Maziyar Yazdani said, quoted by Iranian Fars news agency.
He mentioned that the railway will link Shalamcheh in Iran to Iraq’s southern province of Basra and then to Lattakia port in northwestern Syria, stating that it would result in a major boost in transit of goods between Iran and Syria.
The agreement for the construction of the railway networks between Iran and Iraq dates back to 2014.
According to Yazdani, the Shalamcheh-Basra railway line will need only 32 kilometers of new track to connect existing railways, costing a total of 2,200 billion riyals (US $52,200).
After linking Iran’s railway to Basra, Iranian cities would then be connected to other central cities in Iraq, Minister of Roads and Urban Development Abbas Ahmad said.
“Iran's railway system is linked to railways of Central Asia, China, and Russia and if the 32-kilometer Shalamcheh-Basra railway will be constructed, Iraq can transfer goods and passengers to Russia and China and vice versa,” he added.
The construction of the project comes as the US has recently imposed the second round of sanctions on Tehran, targeting the energy and financing sectors or Iran.
Editing by John J. Catherine