Iraq plans for €15bn road and rail connection with Europe
18 July 2023
Iraq has established a special unit to oversee the implementation of a project to develop road and rail infrastructure linking the country to Europe, as well as other Middle Eastern nations.
The announcement was made by Shada Radi, spokesperson for the Iraqi Ministry of Transport.
Once completed, the €15.1 billion Route of Development project is expected to span 1,200km, from Iraq’s northern border with Turkey to the southern Gulf region.
The plan includes the construction of approximately 15 stations along the route, including major cities such as Basra, Baghdad, Mosul, and locations up to the Turkish border.
The primary objective of the project, according to Radi, is to enhance economic cooperation between Iraq, Turkey, and Europe.
Reuters reported that the project aims to connect Iraq’s oil-rich southern Grand Faw Port to Turkey, positioning the nation as a pivotal transit hub, significantly reducing travel time between Asia and Europe, potentially rivalling the Suez Canal.
Preparatory work is already underway with soil surveys being conducted to determine the optimal path for both road and rail connections.
Radi said the responsibilities of the newly established unit will also include engaging with other countries to explore potential contributions to the realisation of the project.
During a recent conference, the Iraqi Prime Minister Mohamed Shia Al Sudani presented the grand plan to representatives from neighbouring countries, saying, “We perceive this project as a fundamental pillar for a sustainable non-oil economy, serving Iraq’s neighbours and the region while contributing to economic integration efforts.”
The Iraqi parliament’s transport committee said any country wishing to participate would have the opportunity to contribute to a portion of the project. The committee also estimated a project completion timeline of three to five years.
Plans for the route include the introduction of high-speed trains operating at speeds of up to 300km per hour, with connections to local industrial hubs and including an energy component with the potential for oil and gas pipelines.