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EghtesadOnline: Among the costly urban projects underway in the capital, the subway network, which is already seen as a white elephant, seems to have an insatiable appetite for funds.

Chairman of Tehran City Council Mohsen Hashemi says 250 trillion rials ($1.78 billion) is needed for completing lines 6 and 7 of the Tehran subway network.

“Almost 90% of Line 6 tunnel has been completed. However, hardly 6% of the required equipment for the line has been purchased,” Asre Khodro news website reported.

Line 6 starts from Sulqan in the northwest. The 31km line has 29 stations and ends in Dolat-Abad working district in the southeast, Financial Tribune reported.

Before starting work, TM had estimated that the total cost of this line would be around 65 trillion rials ($464 million), or $15 million per kilometer. However, according to Hashemi, spending so far has surpassed the municipality’s initial estimate.

> Unending Saga

Similarly, construction of Line 7 has been an unending saga since its partial opening in June 2017.  The 27km line, which connects the northwest to the southeastern regions is designed to cover 25 stations. Initially the TM estimated that it could be completed with 60 trillion rials ($428 billion), about 2.2 trillion rials ($15.8 million) per kilometer.

The line was scheduled for launch in 2015, but after three years and billions in costs and overheads, thanks to negligence and poor management of past managers, only seven stations have been built.

Former mayor Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf and his senior aides have been accused by public transport experts and independent urban planners of rushing to open the line with little regard to safety protocols and acceptable international standards. 

Qalibaf was mayor for 12 years up until the summer of last year and is seen as one of the controversial figures on the political landscape who thrice tried but failed to become president.  

Political analysts believe that Qalibaf and his men rushed to launch the long-delayed line before the presidential elections in mid-2017 to muster votes for the beleaguered mayor who eventually dropped out of the race less than a week before the polls opened.

Qalibaf’s successor Mohammad Ali Najafi ordered the line closed in November last year due to rising concerns over safety regulations, corruption and dodgy contracts.

It is often reported that the post-Qalibaf municipality is sinking in red ink and that its coffers are empty. The main question now is who will pay for the pending metro projects in the city that lacks decent public transport and transparent urban management.

> Construction Costs

Subway construction costs vary in different countries depending on land value, raw material prices, and construction costs. For instance, Madrid’s Metrosur line is 41 km long, with 28 stations, and was completed in four years for about $58 million/km. 

Singapore’s Circle Line runs 35km with 28 stations and cost $4.8 billion, or $130 million/km.

In addition to the lines 6 and 7, Tehran’s subway comprises five main lines (1, 2, 3, 4 and 5) with nearly 100 stations.

Subway commute has increased significantly in recent years and now about four million people use the trains everyday. Tehran Municipality expects the number to climb by 25% after the launch of lines 6 and 7.

Ticket price is fixed for each journey at 10,000 rials (7 cents), regardless of the distance traveled, but using prepaid tickets (in form of electronic cards) costs much less. On all Tehran metro trains the first, second and the last carriages are reserved for women. Train services start at 5:30 am and until 11 pm with one every 2-10 minutes.


Metro Tehran Hashemi urban projects subway network