FEASIBILITY and cost studies for two rail links between Iran and Iraq are due to be completed next year, according to Iranian Islamic Republic Railways.

RAI confirmed in July that technical design is underway for a 700m bridge across the Shatt-Al-Arab waterway to carry the planned Basra - Shalamcheh - Khorramshahr railway linking the southern extremities of the two networks. Construction of the bridge is provisionally costed at around US$70m.

Design studies and technical specifications for a direct line between Tehran and Baghdad are due to be finished by June 2006. RAI has already started construction of a new line from Arak to Kermanshah, and is planning an extension of this route to the Iraqi border at Khosravi. IRR has appointed Czech consultancy Sadab to prepare studies for its proposed Baghdad - Khanaqin - Manzariah line and the short connection from Khanaqin to Khosravi.

The announcement followed a visit to Tehran by Iraq’s Deputy Minister of Transport Mr Esmat and the head of Iraqi Republic Railways J Saloum. After discussing various railway development and co-operation projects with RAI President Mohammad Saeidnejad, the Iraqi delegation also visited Wagon Pars to negotiate the supply and repair of freight wagons. n