EghtesadOnline: The government plans to complete the construction of five rail projects, all of which have so far had more than 50% progress, by the end of its term in August, according to a report released by the Construction and Development of Transportation Infrastructure Company.
These railroad projects stretch for about 649 kilometers.
The first of these projects is the 270-kilometer Yazd-Eqlid railroad, which has had 86% progress so far. The project needs 4 trillion rials ($18.6 million) of investments before it can be completed at the approximate date slated for its inauguration that is late May or early June.
The railroad is estimated to transport 4 million tons of cargo and 1 million passengers in the first year of its launch, IRNA reported.
The 44-kilometer Bostanabad-Tabriz railroad is the second project and has made 74% progress. It requires 3 trillion rials ($13.9 million) to be completed by June. This railroad will transport 2 million tons of cargo and 1 million passengers during the first year of its inauguration.
Another prioritized project is the 150-kilometer Zahedan-Khash railroad that has made 70% progress. The investments required have been allocated to this project that is slated to be inaugurated around June. The railroad will have the capacity to transport 2.8 million tons and 927,000 passengers in the first year of its launch.
Hamedan-Sanandaj railroad is 150 kilometers long and needs 7.5 trillion rials ($34.8 million) for completion. So far, it has made 67% progress and once inaugurated, it will have the capacity to transport 2.9 million tons of cargo. The project is scheduled to be launched by the end of President Hassan Rouhani’s tenure in August.
The Rasht-Caspian project (35 kilometers long) ranks last in the government’s priority list, which has so far made 55% progress. Once launched, the railroad will have the capacity to transport 5 million tons of commodities and 1.4 million passengers over the first year of its inauguration. The project needs 2.8 trillion rials ($13 million) to be completed.
Deputy Roads Minister Abbas Khatibi told the news portal of the Ministry of Roads and Urban Development that in the last Iranian year (March 2020-21), 300 kilometers of railroads were inaugurated.
“Eight projects, i.e., a total of 1,100 kilometers of railroads, have been prioritized for completion by the end of the current fiscal year [March 2022]. These were selected because they either connect provincial capitals to Tehran, complete local or international corridors, or link the country’s railroads to the neighboring states.”
29% Surge in Rail Freight Transport
Iran’s rail freight transport grew by 29% in the last fiscal year (March 2020-21) compared with the year before, despite border closures during the first four months of the Covid-19 pandemic, Saeed Rasouli, managing director of the Islamic Republic of Iran Railways, told a virtual meeting of the 36th conference of the Organization for Cooperation of Railways (April 19-23).
“Exports by the Islamic Republic of Iran Railways increased by 5% in the last fiscal year [March 2020-21] compared with the year before. More than 650,000 tons of cargo were carried across the Iran-Turkey rail border crossing [Razi border terminal, Iran’s sole rail connection with the neighboring country], reaching a record high in the past 10 years,” IRNA quoted Rasouli as saying.
Noting that freight transport via Sarakhs rail border [with Turkmenistan] in Khorasan Razavi Province grew by 173%, the official said the broad gauge line in Inche Boroun Station located in Iran’s northeastern Golestan Province was also connected to the border station of neighboring Turkmenistan to facilitate bogie exchange process and increase the carrying capacity of wagons.
“Iran connected its eastern rail network to Afghanistan [Khaf-Herat Railroad Project] in December and negotiations were carried out with Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Russia and officials of other regional railroads, which would hopefully result in positive changes and improvements in international rail transportation,” Rasouli said, adding that Iran is trying to secure permits to operate freight trains across the Commonwealth of Independent States.
Domestic Rail Industry Thrives
On Nov. 24, Iran unveiled its first domestically-manufactured locomotive after 10 years, called Pars 33, and with that Wagon Pars Company, which had stopped manufacturing locomotives around 10 years ago, officially resumed its activity in the field of locomotive production.
According to Mohammad Reza Mokhtari, Wagon Pars CEO, Iran has also succeeded in manufacturing wagon brakes.
“We had managed to manufacture some parts of this system before, but this is the first time that 100% locally-made wagon brakes have been installed on our rail fleet,” he said.
Wagon Pars, launched in 1974 in the city of Arak in Markazi Province, is a subsidiary of the Industrial Development and Renovation Organization of Iran and the largest manufacturer of freight, passenger and subway wagons in the Middle East.
“Very soon, we will become self-sufficient in all railroad requirements, including passenger wagons and locomotives, and have a more significant role in the country’s economic development,” Minister of Roads and Urban Development Mohammad Eslami was quoted as saying by the news portal of the Ministry of Roads and Urban Development.
A total of 788 units of rolling stock, including passenger and cargo wagons as well as locomotives, were manufactured in Iran during the last Iranian year (March 2020-21), showing a 30% increase compared with the year before, according to the minister.
“All the manufactured rolling stock were 100% locally-made. The process will continue in the current year and the years to come, and domestic wagon and locomotive construction firms keep receiving orders from rail transportation companies,” he was quoted as saying by News.mrud.ir.
With the aim of reducing road traffic and battling air pollution, the Ministry of Roads and Urban Development has placed the development of Iran’s rail sector on top of its agenda.
Iran’s Sixth Five-Year Development Plan (2017-22) has tasked the government with increasing the share of rail in cargo and passenger transportation from the current 12% and 8% to 30% and 20% respectively by the end of the plan.