Despite the damages that the railways faced due to ISIS shelling, the General Director of Iraq Rail ordered the railways to be fixed between Baghdad and Fallujah. Commuters find this method faster, cheaper and easier than catching buses or taxis to the capital.
Two years after the liberation of the city of Fallujah in the Anbar province from ISIS control, Iraq Rail has begun running trains from the city to the capital, Baghdad. Despite the scenes of destruction along the route, the tracks were fixed, and new trains have been bought from China to operate the route. The battles that took place between the Iraqi Security Forces and ISIS significantly damaged the railway between the two cities. “From Fallujah to Baghdad, the route is destroyed, with approximately 45 strikes, from destruction to shells,” says Abdul Muttalib Saleh, the head of rail Operations in Ramadi. “A directive was issued by the General Director to rebuild the route, and we began work to rebuild this route. People are surprised.”
Despite not being able to go fast than 100 km/hour, commuters from Fallujah say that the trains have made their trips to Baghdad faster, cheaper and more enjoyable. “Right now the trains are easier for us. When we go to Baghdad and come back to Fallujah it’s something enjoyable,” said Omar Khalil, a hairdresser from Fallujah. Travelers stressed that the train had eased their travel because they don’t have to deal with security checkpoints, which delay their movement. “Before we used to suffer from all the checkpoints, we would leave late, and the business was difficult,” said Sinan Majid, a commuter. “But now, the situation has become easier for citizens, for workers and secondly the price is cheap.”
In addition to public servants and workers, students have significantly benefitted from the reopening of the Fallujah-Baghdad railway. Some students have said that the trip in the train’s air-conditioned carriages have allowed them to study comfortably on their way to their universities in Baghdad.
Officials in Iraq Rail say that they will continue their efforts to revive the railways which were once used throughout the country. In 2016, Iraq bought 12 new trains from China to increase train use. However, this number is far the amount of train journeys that took place in Iraq at the country’s prime. Despite the difficulties along the way, such an initiative is a positive step towards the restoration of Iraq’s infrastructure.