PLANS TO invest US$2·5bn in expansion and modernisation of Iran’s rail network were announced in January by RAI President Mohammad Saeedi Nejad.

The 2005-10 development plan envisages the acquisition of 180 new locomotives, 8800 freight wagons and 500 coaches, helping to lift the network’s annual capacity to 50 million tonnes of freight and 36 million passengers. Nejad said RAI had ordered 80 wagons from Wagon Pars of which 14 had been delivered and 12 more were expected this year.

With construction of the Mashhad - Bafgh and Kerman - Zahedan lines nearing completion, RAI is expecting a significant increase in international business. On February 15 Nejad held talks with the Deputy Prime Minister of Uzbekistan Ravshanbek Fayzullayev, who indicated that UTY was looking to dispatch between 120 and 150 wagons a day to the Gulf port of Bandar Abbas via Serakhs and Bafgh.

  • RAI’s five-year plan also covers construction of 511 km Astara - Rasht - Qazvin line linking Iran, Azerbaijan and Russia, which is expected to be completed by 2010 at a cost of US$600m (RG 9.04 p511). Attending a trilateral planning meeting in Baku on February 10, RZD First Vice-President Khasyan Zyabirov reiterated Russia’s commitment to the North-South corridor. The legal, financial and technical proposals had now been drawn up, and it was now time to take a formal decision on implementation, he said. RZD was willing to fund a study by external consultants leading to a proper business plan, and Zyabirov also offered equipment and materials to help build the line.