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More cities choose urban rail

01 Mar 2004

APART FROM the well-established metro network in Tehran, where two lines are operational and a suburban line links the centre to the western satellite of Karaj, six other Iranian cities are building or planning urban rail networks. According to Siadat Mousavi, Managing Director of the newly-established Iranian Union of Urban Railway Companies, the other six founder member cities are Mashhad, Tabriz, Esfahan, Ahwaz, Shiraz and Karaj.

The Mashhad light metro network has already made major progress (MR01 p43), and is about to call bids for a fleet of new rolling stock. Construction is also in hand in Esfahan (RG 2.04 p98).

Dr Ali Khoshravan Azar, General Manager of Tabriz Urban Railway Organisation, says that plans in his city call for a three-line network totaling 44 km. The first line will run for 8 km and will have 21 stations. An initial 3 km cut-and-cover section with three stations is already under construction, and work should be completed within a few months. Two TBMs are being purchased for the central section that will be constructed up to 35m below ground, and work is expected to start here in September. Depots will be built at each end of this first line.

In Karaj proposals have been prepared for the first phase of a 25 km network, on which work is expected to start in January 2005, according to Eng Kamyar Bayatmakoo, Managing Director of Karaj Urban & Suburban Railway Organisation. The plans envisage a 12 km north-south route (below) with 24 stations between Daneshgah Square in the north and the southern terminus beyond Canal, plus a 13 km east-west line. By 2021 the Karaj network could be expanded to 61 km.

Much of the network will be built using cut-and-cover, but some sections will be elevated or at grade, especially on the north-south line. The line will be designed as a full metro, but to save costs, it will initially be equipped for pre-metro or light rail operation. The intention is to convert the line to a heavy metro by 2030 to handle higher volumes of traffic - the city's population is growing at a rate of 7·5% a year.

Mousavi of IUURC points out that urban populations are increasing rapidly in Iran, and suggests that it is incumbent on city authorities to consider planning rail networks when a city's population exceeds 300000; at the moment 67% of Iran's total population lives in urban areas and 61 cities have bus services. He believes that the Iranian public currently has a positive attitude towards metro construction because of the success of the Tehran metro.

Mousavi suggests that other cities where planning for rail services should start include Qum, Zahedan, Kerman, Arak, Bandar Abbas and Yazd. n

'Work is already in hand on the first 3 km section of a planned three-line urban rail network'

Dr Ali Khoshravan Azar

General ManagerTabriz Urban Railway Organisation

'Our initial 12 km north-south line will be followed by a 13 km second route running east-west'

Eng Kamyar Bayatmakoo

Managing Director

Karaj Urban & Suburban Railway Organisation

CAPTION: Following the success of the first two heavy metro lines in Tehran, the Iranian government has approved plans to develop metro and light rail projects in six other cities

CAPTION: The initial pre-metro route in Karaj will connect with the suburban Line 5 of the existing Tehran metro network