Information on the History of Baghdad Railway Line Project

anatolia bagdat railway
anatolia bagdat railway

Baghdad Railway, XIX. XX with the end of the century. The railway between Istanbul and Baghdad at the beginning of the century. In the XIX century, when steamships began to significantly change the classical sea routes to the ports of the East. At the beginning of the second half of the century, the connection and construction of railways gained great importance. The idea of ​​connecting the Mediterranean with the Persian Gulf with the classical road system, and thus reaching India by the shortest route, goes back to ancient times. However, in 1782, John Sullivan's proposal to build a highway from Anatolia to India, Colonel François Chesney's operation of a steamboat on the Euphrates river and the highway that would connect Syria and Mesopotamia to India, and that it was routed via Aleppo. Projects such as transporting it to the Mediterranean and extending the Euphrates line to Kuwait remained on paper. However, in 1854, it was decided to build railways in the Tanzimat Council, and in 1856, an English company took the construction concession of the İzmir Aydın line and opened this line in 1866. With the Varna Ruse line opened in the same year, the first important railway lines in Anatolia and Rumeli were put into operation.

The opening of the Suez Canal in 1869 gave a new direction to the struggle between Britain and France over the shortest route to India. This situation also played an important role in increasing the demand for railway projects. Üsküdar Izmit Sivrihisar - Aksaray - Euphrates valley - Baghdad-Basra-Iran and Balochistan Kolkata line, which Robert Stephenson suggested as an alternative to the Suez Canal, could not be realized due to the high cost of the project. The military and economic importance of the railways led the Ottoman Empire, which had large lands, to take new measures, and for this purpose, the Ministry of Public Works was established in 1865 under the presidency of Edhem Pasha. Starting from 1870, extensive railway construction projects were carried out and the possibilities of their implementation were investigated. For this purpose, Austrian engineer Wilhelm Pressel, who is also known for his work on the Sark railway project in Rumelia, was invited (February 1872). First of all, it was decided to build a large railway line that would connect Istanbul to Baghdad. The Haydarpaşa-İzmit line, which was started in 1872 as the first part of this project, was completed in a short time. However, the work of taking this line further was interrupted until 1888 due to the financial difficulties of the state and foreign capital was needed to complete the line. Nâfia Nâzın Hasan Fehmi Pasha expressed the necessity of foreign capital for the construction of the railway in a statement he prepared in June 1880. He also determined two separate lines that would cross Anatolia and reach Baghdad. One of them was Izmir-Afyonkarahisar - Eskişehir - Ankara - Sivas-Malatya - Diyarbakir - Mosul-Baghdat: the other one was reaching Baghdad by following the right bank of the Euphrates from Izmir-Eskişehir-Kütahya-Afyon - Konya -Adana - Aleppo -Anbarlı. This second route was preferred and recommended due to its lower cost and military advantage.

After the Ottoman financial situation, especially Duyûn-1 Umûmiyye (1882), started to gain credibility in the European financial circles again and the Ottoman governments' interest in railways paved the way for the development of new railway projects.

Among these projects, especially Cazolis and Tancred's Tripolis, Humus, Aleppo. Fırat valley, Baghdad and Basra line project attracted attention. However, the rumors of Jewish immigrants migrating from Russia to both sides of this line and the sudden death of Cazalet caused the project to fall into the water.

Many similar railway projects have been rejected because the proposal parties and states prioritized their political and economic interests and the Porte did not respond to the development goals they hoped to achieve because of the railways. In addition, Babıâli announced that he will not give concessions to any project whose starting point is not Istanbul. While these activities of the British and French capitalists increased the competition and competition between them since 1888, Germany emerged as a new force in the construction of railways. In this, despite the shy policy of Bismarck II. Abdülhamid's personal involvement in the issue played a big role. In this way, Germany became a balance in the East against England and France. With the will of 24 September 1888, a railway construction and operation between Haydarpaşa and Ankara was given to Alfred von Kaulla, Wüttenberglsche Vereins-bank, who had close relations with the Ottomans due to the sale of arms. On October 4, between von Kaulla and the Ottoman government. A contract was signed to extend the existing Haydarpaşa - Izmit line of 92 kilometers to Ankara. The Ottoman Empire gave a guarantee of 15.000 francs per year for every kilometer. The Anatolian Railways Company (Societe du Chemin de fer Ot-toman d'Anatolie) was officially established on March 4, 1889. Thus, the construction of the railway line, which was set out in 1872 towards Baghdad, was resumed, albeit with a delay.

Anadolu Railways Company continued its construction activities regularly and fulfilled its commitments on time and in the best way with the new concessions it received for further lines. When the İzmit-Adapazarı lines in 1890, Haydarpaşa-Eskişehir-Ankara lines in 1892, and Eskişehir-Konya lines in 1896 were completed, a railway network of more than 1000 kilometers had been laid. The Ottoman government announced that it intended to extend the railway to the Persian Gulf at the ceremony held at the opening of the Izmit - Adapazarı line and intensified its contacts with the Germans. In September 1900, the German government instructed the banks and foreigners to provide the necessary support in this regard, in accordance with the world policy that the new Kaiser Wilhelm wanted to implement. Russia, England and France were opposed to the project of extending the railway to Baghdad. Russia, along with some other reasons, had a significant impact on the railroad's direction from Ankara to the southeast Anatolian direction and passing over Konya, and the directing of this line to northeast Anatolia via Sivas was abandoned. Allowing England to increase its military presence in Egypt and giving France the concession to extend the Izmir-Kasaba line from Alaşehir to Afyon prevented the opposition of these states.

Concession Agreement

Baghdad railway agreements took their final form by going through very complicated phases. The preliminary concession agreement was signed on December 23, 1899, and the main concession agreement was signed on January 21, 1902. Finally, on March 21, 1903, with the final agreement, a contract was signed regarding the financing of the 250-kilometer Konya-Ereğli line, which is the first line to be built. On April 13, 1903, the Baghdad Railway Company (Societe Imperial Ottomane du Chemin de fer de Bagdad) was officially established. With the aim of starting the construction immediately, the Ottoman State immediately fulfilled the financial obligations it assumed and showed the tithe taxes of Konya, Aleppo and Urfa as a kilometer guarantee. In accordance with the terms of the agreement, the government would issue Ottoman bonds with a nominal value of 275.000 francs for each kilometer of road that the company would make, and the real estate owned by the company would be mortgaged to these bonds as a guarantee. Along the roads that the line will pass through, the privilege of benefiting from state-owned forests, mines and quarries for construction was also granted. These were similar to the concessions given to companies for railways built in other countries at that time. All railway-related materials would be imported duty-free. The company would make an agreement with the Ottoman Ministry of War and make stations in places deemed appropriate, and military transports would be given priority in case of war or rebellion.

The official language of the company was French. Their officers would wear special uniforms and fez. The company, which is dominated by German capital and has 30% French capital, was also kept open to other shareholders. The 99-year concession agreement gave the state the right to purchase the company when the first thirty years were up. This railway, the construction of which continued during the First World War, and which connected Baghdad to Istanbul uninterruptedly only in October 1918, was bought and nationalized by the new Turkish Republic on January 10, 1928.

Baghdad railway has been one of the main sources of relentless competition between Germany and England, which is the issue of propaganda and opening up to the East, and which is a matter of prestige. The great states, who saw themselves as the natural heirs of the Ottoman heritage, did not digest Germany to appear as a force supporting the Ottoman Empire. It is understood that the Anatolian - Baghdad railway projects have brought political and economic benefits to the Ottoman Empire from the moment they were introduced. As a matter of fact, in addition to the use of the line for military purposes, it can be said that the Anatolian cereals moved to Istanbul and the state center no longer played an important role in the economy of Anatolia as well as in the demographic structure of Anatolia.

Istanbul Baghdad Railway Map

Istanbul Baghdad Railway Map

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