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EghtesadOnline: Tehran Urban and Suburban Railway Company is renovating subway trains to quickly optimize the environmentally friendly mode of transportation before the likely opening of schools in October.

According to Ali Abdollahpour, the head of TUSRC, 37 DC and 37 AC trains are undergoing major repairs and will be back in service within a month, Tasnim News Agency reported.

The official also stated that five two-story train cars on the intercity Line 5, which connects Tehran to the neighboring Alborz Province, were recently renovated and restarted services.

“The renovation has been funded from the state budget and the resources of Tehran Municipality,” Abdollahpour explained, adding that a lack of financial resources had delayed repairs that undercut the safety and efficiency of the transportation system. 

“After every 900,000 kilometers of travel, trains should undergo extensive technical inspections and repairs,” he said.

“Currently, 171 trains operate in Tehran's urban subway, with at least 60% of them in desperate need of repair.”

For years, urban planners have prioritized the expansion of high-speed and clean mode of transportation in congested cities. However, due to an economic downturn and US sanctions, the induction of new wagons and relevant technologies lost priority.

According to Jafar Tashakkori-Hashemi, the chief of Transportation Commission at Tehran City Council, buying new train cars from foreign suppliers is not an option for Tehran due to soaring prices. 

“The establishment of each kilometer of railroad costs 12 trillion rials [$43.6 million] and the addition of 30 kilometers of new railroads to the existing subway system would require more than 360 trillion rials [$1.3 billion],” he added.

Tashakkori noted that relying solely on the government's limited coffers to finance such a project will fail to overhaul the transportation system.

“New private resources should be prepared through negotiations and repair policies should prioritize imports,” he said.



Fiscal Deficit

According to a former TCC member, 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 had earlier said due to the negative effects of US sanctions reimposed in the summer of 2018, Iran’s rial is losing value against hard currencies, making it a tough task to expand and renew the ailing public transportation in Tehran.

Since the US reimposed sanctions against Iran, the rial has lost 70% of its value against the greenback over the past year. 

On Sunday, the US dollar was traded at 275,000 rials in Tehran while it hardly fetched 42,000 rials in March 2018.

“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.

The official noted that for each kilometer of the subway, there was 1.1 train wagons. 

“The figure has fallen by 30%, which means that for each kilometer of the operating subway line, there are 0.8 train cars,” Alikhani 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.



Expansion Plans

Despite talks of budget deficit, Tehran Metro Company is planning to add at least eight more stations by the end of the current Iranian year (March 2022), the head of Tehran Metro Company said.

Ali Emam added that the new stations would come on stream in lines 3, 6 and 7.

“We are planning to complete tunneling and railroad infrastructure in the southern flank of Line 6, which runs 7.5 kilometers up to Shah Abdolazim Shrine Station,” he said.

The official noted that based on the line’s extension design, the path will then link up with Shahr-e Rey Station to the south of Line 1.

Line 6 is the longest route in the subway network, which will stretch over 38 km with 27 stations upon completion. It will connect Shahr-e Rey to the famed Sulaqan rural district in the northwest.

“The other project to become operational by August is the northern extension of Line 3. The line is planned to continue its path toward the west, making a loop with Line 1 at Tajrish Station. Besides the connection, several inactive stations in the line will also be completed,” he said. 

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 helps alleviate traffic problems. Once fully operational, the line will have 26 stations.

In addition to the completion of new stations, Emam added that five operating stations will open second entrances to ease public access.

The official said Tehran Metro has also placed the completion of Line 7 on the current year’s agenda.

According to Emam, the construction of 5 kilometers of the northwestern flank of Line 7, connecting two stations: Islamic Azad University Science and Research Branch and North Jannatabad, and a subway terminal in the far north will start soon.

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.

Officials now say all safety standards have been observed.

Stretching over 253 kilometers across the capital, Tehran Metro comprises 130 operating stations.


Metro Tehran