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EghtesadOnline: With an investment of 12,000 billion rials ($41 million), the 628-kilometer railroad project connecting the southeastern port city of Chabahar to the eastern city of Zahedan near the border with Afghanistan and Pakistan witnessed a 48% physical progress, the deputy head of the Construction and Development of Transportation Infrastructures Company said on Wednesday.

Noting that 70% of the excavation works of the project have been completed, Abbas Khatibi added, “This large-scale project has been split into northern and southern parts that form eight sections. The southern part is 312 kilometers long and the northern part 316 kilometers,” the Ministry of Roads and Urban Development's news portal reported.

“Minister of Roads and Urban Development Mohammad Eslami inaugurated the track-laying operation from Chabahar Port on Wednesday. The track-laying from Zahedan started three months ago and so far 32 kilometers of the railroad have been completed. A total of €300 million have been allocated to this project from the resources of the National Development Fund of Iran, of which we have received €100 million.”

The withdrawal from NDFI came after Leader of Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei authorized the government to spend funds needed to complete the rail project from the sovereign wealth fund, the news portal of roads ministry reported.

Mohammad Reza Azarian, the project manager, said 92,000 tons of rails are needed to complete the 700-kilometer track, noting that the UIC60 rails manufactured by Esfahan Steel Company will be used in this project.

“As per a contract with ESCO, the Isfahan-based company will supply 5,000 tons of rails in the first stage, of which 1,000 tons have been delivered. Track-laying of one kilometer of railroad is planned to be completed in one day,” Azarian was quoted as saying by Fars News Agency. 

With the new railroad in place, 927,000 passengers and 2.8 million tons of cargo will be handled annually by March 2023. 

The average speed of freight trains will be 120 km per hour. Passenger trains will run at 160 km per hour. 

It will create jobs for 13,000 people and 3,000 will be involved directly in the project.    

Work on the project started in the fiscal 2010-11, only to come to a halt for three years due to funding constraints.  

The railroad to Zahedan is crucial, as it is vital for connecting landlocked Afghanistan via Chabahar. The port in Iran’s Sistan-Baluchestan Province is strategically important for India too, allowing it easy access to Afghanistan and bypassing Pakistan. 

After connecting Chabahar Port to Zahedan, the railroad will be linked to Zaranj in Afghanistan. When Afghan cargo arrives in Zahedan, it can be transported to Chabahar and then to India.

Chabahar is of strategic importance for Iran as it is the country’s only oceanic port, which bypasses the narrow chokepoint of Strait of Hormuz connected to the Persian Gulf.

It is 70 kilometers west of Gwadar Port, the starting point of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. The China Overseas Port Holding Company operates Gwadar Port.

 

Chabahar Zahedan Rail Project