Saddam's luxury train to return to service

Saddam Hussein's private luxury train, equipped with chandeliers and Italian-made curtains, is being put into public service next month to help ease a train shortage, Iraqi rail officials said Tuesday. The 23-carriage French-built train was kept in a secret location for three decades and shielded from the widespread looting that followed the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003. Starting in September, the train will ferry passengers between Baghdad and the southern city of Basra, said Karim al-Tamimi, a spokesman for Iraq's rail system. He said the train, which also has three locomotives, was moved recently from a rail yard in Baghdad to the city's main railway station. Saddam used the train only once in the late 1970s, shortly after becoming president, for a trip to Basra, said Khadum Abdul-Wahid, the head of the Basra railway branch.