EghtesadOnline: Plans for development and expansion of subway networks in Iranian cities of Ahvaz and Shiraz are gaining momentum.
The municipality of Ahvaz, the provincial center of Khuzestan, has forged an agreement with Khatam-al Anbiya Construction Company to resume the city’s abandoned subway project.
The company is an Iranian engineering arm of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps, IRNA reported.
During a signing event on Sunday, the company’s Managing Director Saeed Mohammad said the incomplete metro project in the city has disrupted urban development.
“We will utilize our technical knowhow and expertise in the construction of Ahvaz Metro to compensate for the long delay in the project,” he said.
The subway of Ahvaz was first mapped over a decade ago. When completed, the system will have four lines and stretch over 88 kilometers across the city with 87 stations.
Line 1 of Ahvaz Metro’s construction, launched in 2009, was expected to become partly operational in 2018. However, the project is still pending.
Mohammad underlined Khatam’s extensive experience in the construction of the subway system and said the company has so far built 670 kilometers of the urban subway with 210 stations.
“About 330 kilometers of the metro tunnel is currently under construction by Khatam in Mashhad, Qom, Shiraz, Tabriz and Tehran,” he added.
The Khatam chief noted that a large share of projects has been concluded with domestic machinery and materials, curbing the country’s dependence on foreign resources and slashing capital flight.
The halted subway project in Ahvaz has received 5 trillion rials ($16.94 million) from the Plan and Budget Organization.
According to Mojtaba Yousefi, the city’s representative in parliament, with the growing road traffic, especially in the central parts of the city, the need for an urban subway system is being felt more than before.
“Metro can alleviate traffic congestion in the main thoroughfares of the city and reduce its carbon footprint,” he said.
In the past few years, small, sporadic investments have done almost nothing to push ahead the metro project in the city.
“A feasible set of policies should be designed by Ahvaz Municipality and relevant officials to invest the earmarked budget into the incomplete subway project,” he said.
The second phase of Imam Hossein Station on Shiraz subway’s Line 2 was inaugurated during a Sunday event, in the presence of Hassan Moradi, the CEO of Shiraz Metro Company.
According to Moradi, 250 billion rials ($850,000) have been spent on the station, the main built-up area of which is 2,540 square meters with a 1,500 square-meter yard.
“Imam Hossein Station is the first and only operational stop on Line 2, which links up with the already working Line 1. Its first phase was launched in February 2019,” he said.
Moradi noted that the construction of two more stations on Line 2, namely Adelabad and Qahramanan, is almost complete.
“We hope that the line will become partly operational by February 2021,” he added.
Planners have designed six lines for the Fars provincial capital to cover 90 kilometers. Since Line 1 opened in 2014, an estimated 8 million commuters have used the trains annually. The line stretches over 24.5 km with 20 stations.
The construction of Line 1 started in 2001 and its first phase became operational in late 2014.
The 20-km Line 2, which is under construction, will have 20 stations when completed.
Plans for the construction of the seven-station, 10-km Line 3 are under review. This line will connect Shiraz Train Station in the city center. Designing and mapping of routes for lines 4, 5 and 6 will start soon.
Shiraz Mayor Heydar Eskandarpour earlier said, “The expansion of subway in Shiraz is part of the municipality’s agenda to help make life easier for its residents.”
Due to mismanagement and lack of funds, the construction of Line 1 took 18 years.
“Hopefully, Line 2 will be constructed faster. If bonds are issued for financing Line 2, the project would become operational in three years,” the mayor said.
For constructing Line 1, he recalled, participatory bonds worth 7 trillion rials ($23.72 million) were issued.
“With the support of the Central Bank of Iran, Shiraz Municipality plans to issue investment bonds to the tune of 6 trillion rials [$20.33 million] for the construction of Line 2,” he added.
Talks are underway between Shiraz Municipality and private companies over the construction of the metro’s Line 3.
“The municipality does not have the resources to finance the project on its own. Therefore, within the legal framework, we are looking for private partners to invest in the project,” he said.
Last year, an agreement was signed between Shiraz Municipality and Shahr Atieh Investment Company, affiliated to Shahr Bank (City Bank), based on which the former will invest 13.5 trillion rials ($45.76 million) in building Line 2.
On the investment firm’s website, the total construction cost is estimated at $500 million. Close to $250 million are required for building the tunnel ($12.5 million per kilometer) and the rest for buying the train cars and other equipment.
Earlier reports said Line 6 of Tehran Metro is estimated to cost $464 million, or $15 million per kilometer.
Subway construction costs vary in different countries, depending on land value, raw materials and labor costs. For instance, Madrid’s Metrosur line is 41 km long with 28 stations and was completed in four years for $58 million/km. Singapore’s Circle Line runs 35 km with 28 stations and cost $4.8 billion, or $130 million/km.