Bloomberg and Reuters report that Iraq has invited foreign companies to compete for a $450 million monorail project in the southern holy city of Kerbala [Karbala].
The city, 80 km (50 miles) southwest of Baghdad, hosts the shrines of two Shi’ite imams and hosts millions of Shi’ite pilgrims each year at several major religious rites.
The head of the Kerbala Investment Commission, Taif Abdul-Hussein [Taief Ali], said on Sunday the 18-km (11-mile) monorail would be built from a northern entrance to the city to the main Shi’ite shrines in the central area and then towards the northeastern city entrance.
The train would be capable of speeds up to 100 km per hour and the line would have 18 stations, situated about 900-1000 metres apart. The last station would be about 200 meters from the Imam Hussein and Imam Abbas shrine.
Lebanese, Iranian and Gulf companies have expressed interest in the project.
In June 2010, the southern city of Najaf awarded TransGlobim International, a privately-owned Canadian consortium, a $600 million contract to build the country’s first monorail.
In January 2011, France’s Alstom signed a memorandum of understanding to build metro line above Baghdad’s streets.
(Sources: Bloomberg, Reuters)