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File 2764/1904 Pt 3 'Baghdad Railway: general negotiations 1910-1912.' [‎6r] (20/544)

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The record is made up of 1 volume (268 folios). It was created in 1910-1912. It was written in English. The original is part of the British Library: India Office The department of the British Government to which the Government of India reported between 1858 and 1947. The successor to the Court of Directors. Records and Private Papers.


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and North-Western Eailway itself might be glad to use the rails and points which are
being laid down between Aleppo and Muslimieh. At the present moment the Adana
section and the line from Aleppo to the north beyond Muslimieh as far as Akhterin are
actually in working order, it is expected that the line will be complete from Akhterin
to the Zorma-Ara Bridge at Jerablus by October next. The new line between Alex-
andretta and Osmanieh, for which permission was only granted on 16th February last
year, will be finished on 1st April, 1913.
This branch line is ol considerable importance to the company. In the first place,
the linking up of Alexandretta with the main line east of Adana will enable the
engineers to collect the labour and material for the Mesopotamian stretch with very
much greater ease. Secondly—and this is a matter of the first importance, which was
pointed out to me by a resident in Northern Syria, who was considerably interested in
the matter- the facts are that this branch line is a direct communication between
Mesopotamia and the nearest and best European seaport, and that no tariff conditions
attach to this unguaranteed enterprise. Thus the company will be able, if it wishes to
do so, to differentiate the tariffs respectively imposed by" it, so as largely to transfer
any general profit earned by the whole line from the guaranteed section to their
own !
An important Point.
In this connection it is important to remember the tariff laid down by the conces
sions. By this the rate, to be charged for the transport of cereals—which, of course,
will be by .far the most important freight—is at the rate of 22 paras per ton per kilom.
But there is a significant clause, providing that cereals carried in trucks for a distance
of not less than 900 kilom. shall pay a special rate of only 6 paras per ton per kilom.
Put. into plain English, this means that any grain taken to Alexandretta from the
fertile districts.of Mesopotamia—the 900th kilom. is reached about where the Biver Zab
falls into the Tigris above Tekrit—will only have to pay about 25s. per ton for the
whole journey. In view of the intention of the Turkish Government—and if it is not
now the purpose of the Turkish Government it wifi shortly be to the interest of the
German Company-—to develop Sir William Willcocks’s schemes, and make of Mesopo-
tamia a fertile.grain-producing country, it is as well to remember that grain carried by
this railway will not have to pay Suez Canal dues. We all know that it is an axiom
of economists, that railway-borne freight-rates cannot compete with ship-born freight-
rates. This is an argument which has been so repeatedly used to minimise the import
ance of the Bagdad Bail way that it is as well to bear in mind the special circumstances
of marine competition in this case.
Moreover, under the concession there is nothing whatever to prevent the Germans
reducing the rate still further. They do not need for this purpose to obtain the per
mission of the Turkish Government: it is only necessary for them to give three days’
notice of such a reduction, and the thing is done. Should the company, in order to
prevent sea competition, think it advisable that American precedents should be followed,
the main line might be thrown open for the almost gratuitous transport of grain.
There is always the kilometric guarantee to persuade them to this course, for though
this reduction may be brought about at the discretion of the concessionnaires, without
the assent of Turkey, the latter is still obliged to make good the 4,500 fr. per kilometre
What, it may be asked, is the consideration which has induced Turkey to sign so
one-sided an agreement? We have seen that she is bound to pay a sum, which is
capitalised at 269,110 fr. for each kilometre, constructed and in operation. She is,
moreover, bound to make up any deficiency in the annual receipts to the sum of
4,500 fr. a-year. In return for this she receives, on paper, all sums received per kilo
metre between 4,500 fr. and 10,000 fr. Above 10,000 fr., 60 per cent, go to the Govern
ment and 40 per cent, to the company. It would be difficult to draft a concession which
held out more inducements to the concessionnaires to minimise the receipts upon the
guaranteed main line, and increase them upon their own short, unguaranteed railway,
for which they have a right to charge what they please.
The company has not been slow to realise the advantages of its position.
Alexandretta, which, even as it exists to-day, is the best harbour on the Syrian coast,
is being transformed by the construction of a breakwater 2 kilom. long, and enormous
quays which are to be. fitted with every modern apparatus for handling grain. At
Haidar Pasha, opposite Constantinople, the company possesses valuable privileges
regarding the handling of freight, but the company clearly intends to make Alexandretta
the chief port. Naturally enough.

About this item


The volume comprises telegrams, despatches, correspondence, memoranda, newspaper cuttings, maps and notes, relating to negotiations over the proposed Berlin to Baghdad Railway in the period 1910-1912.

The discussion in the volume relates to the economic, commercial, political and military considerations impinging on British strategy for the international negotiations over the development of a railway to Baghdad.

Further discussion surrounds the motivations and strategies of British competitors in the area; included in the volume is a copy of the Russo-German agreement.

The principal correspondents in the volume include Sir Edward Grey, Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and Sir Gerard Augustus Lowther, Ambassador to Constantinople.

Extent and format
1 volume (268 folios)

The papers are arranged in approximate chronological order from the rear to the front of the volume.

The subject 2764 (Bagdad Railway) consists of five volumes, IOR/L/PS/10/56-60. The volumes are divided into five parts with each part comprising one volume.

Physical characteristics

Foliation: the main foliation sequence (used for referencing) commences at the first folio with 1 and terminates at the inside back cover with 269; these numbers are written in pencil, are circled, and are located in the top right corner of recto The front of a sheet of paper or leaf, often abbreviated to 'r'. side of each folio. A previous foliation sequence, which is also circled, has been superseded and therefore crossed out. Pagination: a pagination sequence in red crayon is present between ff 244-252.

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English in Latin script
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File 2764/1904 Pt 3 'Baghdad Railway: general negotiations 1910-1912.' [‎6r] (20/544), British Library: India Office Records and Private Papers, IOR/L/PS/10/58, in Qatar Digital Library <> [accessed 16 September 2019]

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