EghtesadOnline: The Seventh UIC (International Union of Railways) Nextstation International Conference, hosted by the Islamic Republic of Iran Railways and organized by UIC, is being held in Iran.
The event opened at Tehran's Parsian Evin Hotel on Monday and continued the day after. It will wrap up with a technical visit to Isfahan on Wednesday.
UIC Chairman Gianluigi Castelli, UIC Director General Francois Davenne, Iranian Minister of Roads and Urban Development Mohammad Eslami, the head of IRIR, Saeed Rasouli, and a host of transportation officials and experts from Iran and 25 other countries are attending the event, according to Financial Tribune.
According to Rasouli, this is the first time UIC Nextstation is being held in Asia, as the previous iterations were held in Paris, Rome, Moscow, Morocco, Brussels and Madrid, Fars News Agency reported.
The main theme for this year’s conference is “Railroad Stations Developing the City”.
According to Eslami, Iran has 14,000 kilometers of railroads, while more than 15,000 kilometers of rail projects are either under construction or undergoing studies.
The Iranian minister said the government is determined to expand rail transportation.
“Iran’s railroad infrastructure has expanded threefold since President Hassan Rouhani [first] took office (in August 2013),” he said.
Iran Rail Performance
According to Mohsen Sadeqi, a civil engineer in charge of the Economic Evaluation Office at the Ministry of Roads and Urban Development, the Iranian rail network carried 27.96 million passengers last year (March 2018-19).
Between 2013 and 2017, rail passengers averaged at 24 million from 28 million in the early 2010s. It was only after last year’s airfare hikes that the number of passengers shifted to rail transportation services.
Iran’s rail fleet consists of 2,089 passenger cars, 25,398 freight wagons and 1,000 locomotives. The number of passengers using suburban train services has increased from three millions in the fiscal 2014-15 to seven million last year (March 2018-19).
From the fiscal 2011-12 forward, rail freight transport has seen close to a 50% growth, improving from 33 million tons then to around 50 million tons of freight per annum in recent years.
The expert believes future investments in railroad projects in Iran should promote suburban train services and rail freight transport rather than traditional rail transport of passengers.
Noting that expansion of rail services depends on the level of future rail passenger traffic you wish to handle, the official said travel time is critical for the competitiveness of different transport modes and that tips the balance for aviation, not only in Iran but also in other countries.
“As a result, the share of rail passengers in transportation will apparently not experience a dramatic growth in years to come unless tracks get upgraded with train speeding up to 180 kilometers per hour,” he said.
“Knowing this, advanced European and East Asian countries have switched to high-speed rail system as the traditional passenger rail has proved to be economically unfeasible. However, with improved acceleration, you can still remain cautiously optimistic about the competition between rail and other modes of transportation.”
The conference will provide a unique opportunity for high-level speakers, including decision-makers, representatives of leading industries as well as stakeholders involved in urban issues and panelists from different fields or backgrounds, to address all strategic issues related to the creation, development and operation of train stations, UIC wrote on its website.
Nextstation is a world-renowned biennial event for sharing information and experience on the development and operation of a new generation of rail stations across the world, which meet the needs of mobility and society while respecting the aims of sustainable development.
Iran became a permanent member of the Council for Rail Transport of the Commonwealth of Independent States during the council’s 70th meeting held in the Finnish capital, Helsinki, on May 14-15.
“Being a permanent member for Iran, which was previously an observer member, will help further expand rail transit through Central Asian states. It will also have positive effects on the operations of the International North-South Transport Corridor that stretches from Europe to Southeast Asia,” Saeed Rasouli, the head of IRIR, said.
INSTC is a major transit route designed to facilitate the transportation of goods from Mumbai in India to Helsinki in Finland, using Iranian ports and railroads, which the Islamic Republic plans to connect to those of Azerbaijan and Russia.
Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Georgia, Latvia, Finland, Lithuania, Estonia, Azerbaijan, Ukraine and Iran are now permanent members of the Council for Rail Transport of CIS.