Future Turkey-Iraq railway line could become ‘new Silk Road’
Iraq has approved a project for the so-called “Road of Development” (also known as the Dry Canal), a network of rail and road that will link Basra in southern Iraq to the Turkish border. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said the project could become the region’s “new Silk Road”. This was reported by Railway Supply, citing RailFreight.
When completed, the project will connect the port of Grand Fau, which is under construction near the Persian Gulf, with the Turkish port of Mersin on the Mediterranean Sea. In this way, the project could make Iraq a new key transport hub between Asia and Europe. The project to link southern Iraq to Turkey was put forward in late January by the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). The recent approval of the project by Iraq and Turkey makes it official.
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The rail corridor linking the port of Grand Fau to the Turkish border is expected to cost more than €18 billion and be ready by 2038. The Iraqi part of the railway line will stretch for about 1,200 kilometres and then reach Turkey. The project involves the construction of new power lines. The railway project is being handled by the French company Alstom.
The Grand Faw Port will be located roughly 100 kilometres south of Basrah. The first official proposal for the project came in 2010 but the first phase, which included the construction of five main piers was completed only in 2021. Phase two, which is expected to last until 2025, will entail the construction of a container terminal as well as large submarine tunnels connecting to the nearby and shallower Umm Qasr Port. For this project, a contract worth over 2,5 billion euros was awarded in 2020 to Korean company Daewoo Engineering and Construction. The third and final phase of the project will include the construction of around 100 berths.
The master plan for the port was developed by Italian firm Technital, with an estimated total cost of 11,7 billion euros. The new facility is expected to handle 36 million tonnes of containerised freight and 22 million tonnes of dry bulk by 2028. The plan is to further increase these numbers, respectively to 70 million tonnes and 33 million tonnes, by 2038. The project includes two million square metres for terminal container stacking, 600,000 square metres for dry bulk yards, and one million square metres for buildings and warehouses. The double-track railway connected to the port should enable it to move 80 to 90 couples of trains every day.
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