The Islamic Republic of Iran Railways (IRIR) has agreed a €1.2bn deal with Ferrovie dello Stato (FS), its Italian counterpart, to build a high-speed railroad between the cities of Qom and Arak.
The deal follows an agreement in February last year that saw Italy promise Iran €5bn in export credits in return for contracts to build the 135-km Qom-Arak line and a 320-km link between Tehran and Hamadan.
Italy will also provide rolling stock for high-speed and conventional lines, training for Iranian railway managers, and a research centre to develop railway technology.
Iran is in the throes of an immense extension to its railway system. According to IRIR’s plans, the present network of 15,000km will be expanded to 25,000km by 2025. Some 7,500km of this extra track is already under construction.
Italy’s FS has also been connected with the planning and construction of a high-speed rail corridor between Tehran, Qom and Isfahan, and may also undertake the electrification of the rail link between Tehran and Tabriz on the way to the Caucasus.
Altogether about $25bn of work is under way or will begin in the next five years. Companies from Russia, China, France and other countries are undertaking work on particular lines.
China has taken a particular interest, since it intends to make the route through Iran to Turkey one of the stages in its new Silk Road to Europe. The China National Machinery Import and Export Corporation has signed a €2.2bn deal to begin work on the electrification of the 1,000km line between Mashhad in the northeast of the country and Tehran.
Image: Iran’s present rail network of 15,000km will be expanded to 25,000km by 2025 (GCR)