RE: [FJGRailroad] Iraq railway
- Nothing for Amtrak though; or the electrical distribution infrastructure.
>From: "Stephen G. Myers" <Knixrule1@...>
>Subject: [FJGRailroad] Iraq railway
>Date: Sun, 27 Feb 2005 11:42:23 -0500
>On The Road to Reconstruction
>U.S. Army spearheads project to help Iraqis repair dilapidated,
>war-damaged rail system
>By Walter Weart
>It�s 7 p.m. in Iraq. First Lieutenant Joseph Wanat answers his cell
>phone, ready to fill in a reporter on U.S. efforts to reconstruct the
>country�s national railroad. The U.S.-Iraqi war has done more than cause
>damage or destruction to hundreds of buildings, homes and roads.
>Combat actions � including bombs thrown by Iraqi insurgents � and years
>of neglect have wreaked damage on track, communications and signal
>systems, rolling stock and train stations owned by the Iraq Ministry of
>Transportation and operated by the Iraq Republican Railroad, Wanat says.
>Attached to the 888 Movement Control Team, a reserve unit from
>Providence, R.I., that�s now part of Multi National Force-Iraq, Wanat is
>stationed in Baghdad, where his primary assignment is rail operation and
>The U.S. Army is heading a $210 million project designed to rehabilitate
>Iraq�s rail system and restore it to full operation. It wasn�t so much
>damage from bombs, but deferred maintenance, looting and vandalism that
>did in the railroad, Wanat says. Economic sanctions against Saddam
>Hussein�s regime in the 1990s made it difficult for the Iraqi railroad to
>obtain replacement parts, leading to maintenance deferrals.
>�Many kilometers of track have missing ties, no ballast and large gaps
>between adjacent track sections,� he says. �[Our] military was very
>careful to avoid damaging the lines and only about 10 percent of our
>rebuild project [addresses] weapons damage.�
>In a decade-long decline. The U.S.� project budget includes $57 million
>for reconstruction work and $153 million for maintenance equipment,
>rolling stock and spare parts (which are under solicitation or scheduled
>for delivery). Because the Iraqi railroad�s locomotives were produced in
>six countries � including China, Turkey and Germany � most spare parts
>will be purchased from original suppliers located in those countries.
>Rail will be purchased from sources in Poland, the Ukraine and Russia.
>Dating back to 1888, when Germany began building track, the Iraqi
>railroad wasn�t always in dire straits. Despite a construction slowdown
>during World War I, the road continued to build branch lines until 1987.
>However, the railroad�s condition began to deteriorate after the 1991
>Now, railroad officials are trying to manage operations while Iraq aims
>to settle its political future, says Wanat, who has to hang up and get
>back to work. Days later, he�s available via phone again. The Iraqis are
>attempting to keep 250 locomotives and 2,000 rail cars going, Wanat says.
>Shortly after the U.S.� initial combat operations ended in May 2003, the
>railroad operated about 70 trains per week. However, in spring 2004 �
>after insurgent gorillas began full-scale operations � weekly trains
>dropped to about eight, many of which are used for reconstruction
>efforts, he says.
>The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers � working with the U.S.-run Iraq Project
>and Contracting Office (PCO) � is providing quality assurance and
>oversight for the railroad reconstruction, with work being done by Iraqi
>firms using Iraqi workers. Some project funding also is coming from the
>Overseeing the services, supplies and infrastructure work funded by the
>U.S. government�s $18.4 billion Iraqi Relief and Reconstruction Fund, the
>PCO is responsible for managing the project, including finances and
>assets. A key project aspect is rebuilding 76 stations, including one in
>Baghdad, says Wanat, who needs to put down his phone again � duty calls.
>A few days later, with time for one more cell phone call, he describes
>the condition of the facility in Iraq�s capital. Baghdad Central Train
>Station, the Iraqi railroad�s headquarters and largest station, is in
>extremely poor shape, Wanat says. The plumbing doesn�t work, there�s no
>central heating or air conditioning system, and most of the building�s
>doors and windows are broken or missing.
>On the double. The project has another key component, he says. American
>and Iraqi forces want to finish double-tracking the railroad�s mainline �
>a project the Iraqis began prior to the war. The mainline stretches 1,600
>miles south from the Syria-Turkish border to Umn Qasr, the primary port
>for marine cargoes.
>�We plan to have the double-track line from Basrah and the Turkish border
>in service by 2008 or 2009,� says Wanat, moments before he pushes the
>end-call button to finish tending to his day-long duties.