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Trains Under Baghdad

8:41 AM PST on November 26, 2008

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 fromShia-dominated Sadr City in the east to Adhamiya in north Baghdad. Theother would traverse 13 miles and link mixed central Baghdad to theprimarily Sunni western suburbs.

Both lines would have 20stations each and run through a patchwork quilt of sectarianneighbourhoods, which largely remain divided, despite the securityimprovements. Bombs still rattle Baghdad daily, but on a much smallerscale 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 toone of Saddam's old mental homes and never heard from again," said anincredulous Umm Fatimah, 41, from the suburb of Karada. "Even now itdoes seem a bit crazy, but not as crazy as then."

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

Graphic: Osamu Abe via Transport Politic

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