Trains Under Baghdad

baghdad_subway.jpg

Via Transport Politic,
some encouraging transit news from Iraq, where the mayor of Baghdad
recently announced plans to move ahead with the city’s first subway
lines. The Guardian reports:

One of the new proposed subway lines would run 11 miles from
Shia-dominated Sadr City in the east to Adhamiya in north Baghdad. The
other would traverse 13 miles and link mixed central Baghdad to the
primarily Sunni western suburbs.

Both lines would have 20
stations each and run through a patchwork quilt of sectarian
neighbourhoods, which largely remain divided, despite the security
improvements. Bombs still rattle Baghdad daily, but on a much smaller
scale than the violence that ravaged the capital throughout 2006-07.

Naturally,
huge question marks remain about a project that’s been tabled
repeatedly over the years due to disruptive violence. But is there a
better metaphor for a unified Baghdad?

"If anyone suggested a train back then, they would have been sent to
one of Saddam’s old mental homes and never heard from again," said an
incredulous Umm Fatimah, 41, from the suburb of Karada. "Even now it
does seem a bit crazy, but not as crazy as then."

Another Karada resident, Nazem al-Qasemi, said something had to be done
to sort out Baghdad’s chronically clogged arterial roads. "Look at it,"
he said, waving a hand at a gridlocked roundabout. "Even if this is
just talking, at least it’s giving us hope."

Graphic: Osamu Abe via Transport Politic

  • Clearly the Baghdad light rail lobby hasn’t yet recovered from the fall of Saddam.

  • I know, they have at-grade rail in an urban center, which can only mean one thing: cars have to slow down or be delayed. Those maniacs! They’re dragging the economy down with their communist rail road cars!

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