World Railways Photograph Catalogue - Restoration & Archiving Trust

The photo galleries for Iraq are divided by track gauge, one for Iraq State Railways standard gauge lines and the other covering the ISR metre gauge lines & Iraq Petroleum

The first section of railway to be opened in Iraq (or Mesopotamia as it was at the time) was a 76 mile length of the Baghdad Railway between that city & Samarra that commenced operations in 1914. Work had started northwards from Baghdad with the aim of meeting the section being constructed across Turkey & Syria to Tel Kotchek and an extension northwards from Samarra to Baiji was opened in December 1918.
In the meantime from 1916 onwards a lot of narrow gauge equipment, firstly 2’ 6” gauge & later metre gauge was brought across to Southern Mesopotamia from India by the British Military Authorities & used to construct various sections of line to assist with the war effort against the Turks, Mesopotamia then being part of the Ottoman Empire. The metre gauge line from Basra to Nasiriyah was the most important section constructed during the war in terms of its significance as part of later efforts to construct a national railway network. Soon after the end of World War One this was extended northwards from Ur Junction outside Nasiriyah up the Euphrates valley with the complete Basra to Baghdad route being opened on 16th January 1920.
The other section of metre gauge line built during WW1 that had ongoing significance was that from Baghdad East north eastwards to the Persian border. After the war the eastern end of this line was diverted to Khanaqin and the wartime built line north west from Jalula Junction was extended from Kingerban to Kirkuk in 1925.
It was not then until 1936 that work restarted on the completion of the Baghdad Railway route to finally complete this between Tel Kotchek on the Syrian frontier and Baiji with the through route finally being opened on 15th July 1940.
After World War II the Iraq Petroleum Company opened their branch at Kirkuk in January 1947 & the metre gauge line was extended northwards from here to Arbil, opening in June 1949. A joint road & rail bridge was opened across the River Tigris in Baghdad in October 1950 so finally connecting the east and west bank metre gauge systems.


A couple of shots of something a little different that does not fit into either of the two main categories, the Baghdad Zoo railway.


It would be a remarkable survivor if it has come through the upheavals of the Saddam years and their aftermath. Unfortunately nothing is known about this, either its gauge or the origin of the locomotive. Like all shots displayed here, these were taken by the late Basil Roberts in March 1967.


If anyone can provide more information in terms of technical details or regarding its fate, we will be pleased to update this page accordingly.

A new joint metre & standard gauge station and railway headquarters were constructed at Baghdad West in 1953 followed by a new standard gauge line from Baghdad to Basra in the 1960s that opened to freight on 10th March 1964 & for passengers on 25th April 1968.

The main source for the information provided here is ‘Middle East Railways’ by Hugh Hughes, published by The Continental Railway Circle ISBN 0 9503469 7 7


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