Trains Under Baghdad
One of the new proposed subway lines would run 11 miles from Shia-dominated Sadr City in the east to Adhamiya in north Baghdad. The other would traverse 13 miles and link mixed central Baghdad to the primarily Sunni western suburbs.
Both lines would have 20 stations each and run through a patchwork quilt of sectarian neighbourhoods, which largely remain divided, despite the security improvements. Bombs still rattle Baghdad daily, but on a much smaller scale than the violence that ravaged the capital throughout 2006-07.
Naturally, huge question marks remain about a project that's been tabled repeatedly over the years due to disruptive violence. But is there a better metaphor for a unified Baghdad?
"If anyone suggested a train back then, they would have been sent to one of Saddam's old mental homes and never heard from again," said an incredulous Umm Fatimah, 41, from the suburb of Karada. "Even now it does seem a bit crazy, but not as crazy as then."
Another Karada resident, Nazem al-Qasemi, said something had to be done to sort out Baghdad's chronically clogged arterial roads. "Look at it," he said, waving a hand at a gridlocked roundabout. "Even if this is just talking, at least it's giving us hope."