Iran unveils new railway link connecting to Europe

The Cradle, June 9, 2023 —

The new link will increase annual transport projections by 7 million tons of cargo and 2 million passengers.

During a presidential visit to the Iranian province of East Azerbaijan on 9 June, Iran debuted the second phase of its Mianeh-Tabriz railway mega project, connecting Iranian railways to Europe for the first time, local state media news site Mehr News Agency reported.

The 44 km railway in Bostanabad connects Iran’s railway network to Nakhichevan (Azerbaijan), Yerevan, and Tbilisi through Jolfa to increase the volume of exports of goods from Iran to the Republic of Azerbaijan, Armenia, and Turkiye.

The mega project will allow a major increase in transport capabilities for both cargo and passengers, estimated at an additional 7 million tons of cargo and 2 million passengers annually.

The Iranian president allocated 3 trillion tomans ($70,880) for the completion of the project.

The new section will also shorten the railway distance between Tehran and Tabriz by about 114 kilometers, reducing the travel time from 12 to eight hours.

Connecting railways has been a prevalent goal of the Islamic Republic’s government in the last year, with the focus being on the new rail links creating easier access to the transportation of goods with neighboring countries.

On 17 May, President Raisi and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin signed an agreement through online video correspondence to finalize the construction of the Rasht-Astara railway, aimed at strengthening the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC).

The 162 km railway along the Caspian Sea coast helps connect Russian ports on the Baltic Sea with Iranian ports in the Indian Ocean and the Gulf.

Iran intends to go further with its railway projects, and not just into Europe. An ambitious railway project coordinated between Iran, Iraq, and Syria aims to allow Tehran direct access to the Mediterranean.

The project was first announced in 2018 by Saeed Rasouli, head of the Islamic Republic of Iran Railways (RAI).

Earlier in 2011, Iran completed the 17-kilometer Khorramshahr-Shalamjah railway, which was considered the first step towards the completion of this project, as it connected Iran’s railways to the city of Basra.

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