IRAN: Production has begun at Iran Khodro Rail Industries' rolling stock factory at Abhar in northwest Iran, the company announced on February 4. The start of work follows the formal inauguration of the US$45m first phase of the plant by the Minister of Industries & Mines on December 22.

Car and van maker Iran Khodro Investment Development Co established IRICO in 2003 with the aim of producing metro, light rail, monorail and suburban rolling stock. The company believes manufacturing in Iran rather than importing vehicles will reduce costs by US$300m a year.

Trial manufacturing in Abhar began last July. The plant will produce bogies and bodyshells, and has facilities for sandblasting, painting, final assembly and testing. The initial output of 100 vehicles a year is expected to rise to 400 in the future.