EghtesadOnline: The long wait finally came to an end when Esfahan Steel Company supplied the Islamic Republic of Iran Railways with the first batch of domestically produced rails on Sunday.
The batch contains 500 tons of U33 rails manufactured using the latest technologies and based on Europe's EN13674 standards, an ESCO statement announced.
"Producing rail based on the latest European standards was painstaking and complicated, but worth the pain to achieve self-sufficiency," said ESCO's newly-appointed managing director, Mansour Yazdizadeh.
He recently replaced Ahmad Sadeqi who had led ESCO since November 2015, according to Financial Tribune.
The official emphasized that ESCO is capable of meeting all of IRIR's demands with a rail output capacity of 400,000 tons per year and will export its excess production.
ESCO signed a contract with IRIR to produce 40,000 tons of U33 rail tracks in October 2016, 10,000 of which were to be delivered by the end of the fiscal 2016-17. The company repeatedly missed the deadline and extended it to date, and mostly blamed IRIR for not funding production by pre-purchasing the order.
ESCO was jointly established in 1965 by Iran and the Soviet Union’s Tyazhpromexport Company in Isfahan Province.
The EN13674 standard specifies Vignoles rails (also known as flat-bottomed rail) of 46 kg/meter and greater linear mass for conventional and high speed rail track usage.
U33 rail tracks are capable of supporting a speed of up to 160 kilometers per hour.
Yazdizadeh claimed that the rails' quality has been approved by a third foreign party, Bureau Veritas Group, a Paris-based testing, inspection and certification company, IRNA reported.
Bureau Veritas, with a 2017 revenue of €4.6 billion, has operated in Iran since 1976, according to its website. The company is listed on the Euronext Paris stock exchange.
"Providing the first shipment of national rail promises to allay IRIR's rail procurement concerns by further increasing production," said Reza Sadat-Hosseini, the head of Isfahan Railways.
"Based on the goals of the Sixth Five-Year Development Plan (2017-22), Iran is to expand its railroads to 25,000 kilometers, with each 10 kilometers requiring 500 tons of rails," he said.
The idea of a large-scale domestic rail production was first floated in 2005 after a deal to import 100,000 tons of rails from Spain fell through. The former administration argued that imports should be curbed so that domestic production can thrive.
This led to the signing of a deal between ESCO and IRIR. The company’s rails, however, received a lukewarm reception due to their limited speed, support and low quality compared to the global offerings at the time. Consequently, IRIR placed no new orders and called on ESCO to produce UIC60 rails, which are capable of supporting higher speed limits.
Fast-forward to July 2014, IRIR and ESCO signed another agreement for the production of UIC60 rails, with the deadline for its delivery set for September 2015.
ESCO missed the deadline and no new developments took place up until late 2016, when the company launched its new rail production line in cooperation with the German Kuttner Company.
To date, ESCO has only produced some trial UIC60 rails and is yet to reach mass production.