“With the agreement of the Russian bank to provide finance, the project will soon be put into the implementation phase and become operational within three years.”
Rail in Iran is receiving billions of dollars of worldwide investment from investors around the world after the lifting of trade embargoes, as the Gulf country looks to electrify its rail network.The huge levels of investment come after The World Bank issued a statement that it was not considering investment in Iran, despite reports from the international financial institution that it would make available a £1bn package of funding for the Gulf country. A spokesman for the bank said: “The media reports were based on incorrect information. The World Bank currently has no projects under implementation in Iran and is not currently preparing any project.”
Iran’s push for electrification concerns the upgrading of the 575-mile main line from Tehran to Mashhad – work that has been on the table in the country since 2012. However, the most recent financial assistance, including some from German company Siemens, has materialised after the lifting of ten years of trade sanctions against the Islamic republic that began in 2006 after it refused to halt its uranium enrichment programme.
China and Russia became two of the first investors to throw their hats into the ring and help Iran realise its ambition of slashing the journey time in half between Tehran and Mashhad to six hours and help move a projected 10m tonnes of freight a year by 2032. China unveiled a finance package funded by a consortium of companies, China National Machinery Import and Export Corporation (CMC), for overhead equipment and rolling stock in June 2014, while Russian Railways began a $1bn electrification, track and signalling deal in November 2015 the electrification of the line between the cities of Garmsar and Gorgan.
Speaking about the Russia deal, which was made official in March 2017, the Head of the Islamic Republic of Iran Railways, Yusef Gheranpasha, said: “With the agreement of the Russian bank to provide finance, the project will soon be put into the implementation phase and become operational within three years.”
Work on the China deal was officially launched by President Hassan Rouhani a month after the lifting of sanctions, in February 2016. Following the signing of the $1.5bn China-Iran deal, which will be bolstered by $200m of investment from Iran, the country’s Bank of Industry and Mine, Managing Director, Ali Ashraf Afkhami, said the agreement had been signed after "16 months of continuous negotiations" with Chinese bank, Export-Import Bank of China, as reported in the Tehran Times.
Work is also underway on another high speed electrified rail link between the cities of Tehran, Qom and Isfahan, for which Siemens will provide a number of trains, signalling equipment and communication signs for MAPNA, a group of Iranian companies involved in development and execution of rail. “Through financing a number of construction projects, Siemens plans to enter into a joint venture with Iran’s MAPNA company both in the power plant and locomotive manufacturing sector in order to boost domestic production,” said the Deputy Minister of Road and Urban Development for International Affairs, Asghar Fakhriyeh-Kashan.
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