EghtesadOnline: Authorities in Tehran are working hard to overcome obstacles in the way of subway construction to provide people with a more efficient and environmentally friendly mode of transit.
On Tuesday, Manaf Hashemi, Tehran Municipality’s deputy for traffic and transportation affairs, toured the construction sites of subway lines 6 and 7, stating that two additional stations will open next month, ISNA reported.
“The Shahid Rezaei and Towhid stations, respectively on lines 6 and 7, are almost complete and they will open as soon as the remaining equipment, like elevators, escalators, lighting and signage, are installed,” he added.
Ali Emam, the CEO of Tehran Metro Company, predicted that at least nine additional stations on lines 3, 6 and 7 will open by March 2022, describing the current year's development projects.
“On the southern flank of Line 6, which runs 7.5 kilometers up to Shah Abdolazim Shrine Station, we plan to finish tunneling and railroad infrastructure,” he said.
According to the official, the line will subsequently connect with Shahr-e Rey Station on Line 1's southern end, based on the line's expansion plan.
Line 6 is the longest route in the subway network, which will stretch over 38 km with 27 stations upon completion. It connects Shahr-e Rey to the famed Sulaqan rural district in the northwest.
“The northern expansion of Line 3 is another project that will start operating in a few months. The route is expected to continue westward, forming a circle with Line 1 at Tajrish Station. Several inactive stations along the route will also be completed, in addition to forming the connection,” he added.
Tehran Metro’s Line 3, which extends over 38 km from Shahrak-e Qaem in the northeast to Azadegan in the southwest, is a vital route as it crosses busy parts of the capital and will help alleviate traffic problems. Once fully operational, the line will have 26 stations.
The official said Tehran Metro has also placed the completion of Line 7 on the current year’s agenda.
According to Emam, work will begin shortly on the northwestern side of Line 7, which will run for 5 kilometers and link two stations: Islamic Azad University Science and Research Branch and North Jannatabad, as well as a subway terminal in the far north.
The subway terminal will help reduce the headway, ease parking problems and help renovate the wagons.
Line 7 was partially opened in June 2017 by Tehran's former mayor, Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf, during his 2017 presidential election campaign.
The line’s premature launch was strongly criticized by public transport experts and urban planners, because it disregarded safety rules and protocols.
Tehran Mayor Pirouz Hanachi now says all safety standards have been observed.
Stretching over 253 kilometers across the capital, Tehran Metro comprises 130 operating stations.
Tehran Metro’s Report Sheet
According to Tehran Municipality’s recent report, Tehran Metro Company has completed 40 kilometers of subway tunnels, built 14 new station entrances and five power stations, installed 62 elevators, 280 escalators and 78 ventilation systems, and added 133 subway cars to the network since 2017 when the President Hassan Rouhani began his second tenure.
The report states that three sources have contributed 67 trillion rials ($241 million) to Tehran Metro’s construction since November 2017. The first is the government's budget allocation of 2.46 trillion rials ($8.8 million).
Tehran Municipality, which has invested 43.8 trillion rials ($158 million) in the subway over the last four years, is the company's next financial source.
According to the report, 33.6 trillion rials ($121.2 million) of the authorized funds were spent on the subway project, with the rest being used to cover the company's debts and other expenses.
The issuance of participatory bonds has also brought in 20.8 trillion rials ($75 million) for Tehran’s subway.
The harsh US sanctions against Iran, which have been reimposed since the summer of 2018, and the growing prices of imported goods should be considered when comparing achievements and budget expenditures.
Officials are planning new subway development projects, according to the head of Tehran City Council’s Transportation Commission, but Tehran’s subway network needs 2 quadrillion rials ($7.2 billion) for the construction of incomplete lines, purchase of train cars and standardization of equipment.
Mohammad Alikhani added that due to the negative effects of US sanctions, Iran’s rial is losing value against hard currencies, making it a tough task to expand and renew Tehran’s public transportation.
Since the US reimposed sanctions against Iran, the rial has lost 70% of its value against the greenback over the past year.
On Tuesday, the US dollar was traded at 277,000 rials in Tehran while it hardly fetched 42,000 rials in March 2018.
“A train wagon cost 50 billion rials a couple of years ago, but now its price has reached 200 billion rials, which Tehran Municipality cannot afford,” Alikhani said.
Speaking to reporters, Mohsen Hashemi, the head of TCC, expressed disquiet over Tehran subway’s shortfalls.
“While the subway lines have been extended around the city by 80 kilometers in the past several years, not enough trains have been added to the metro’s network,” he added.
Hashemi noted that for each kilometer of the subway, there was 1.1 train wagons.
“Today, the figure has fallen by 30%, which means that for each kilometer of the operating subway line, there are 0.8 train cars,” he said.
Hence, Tehran Metro’s managers need to address the shortfalls at the earliest to help people observe the health protocols for combating Covid-19.