China Freight Train Arrives in Tehran: Six More Planned by Yearend

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China Freight Train Arrives in Tehran: Six More Planned by Yearend

2017-10-18

China will send six more cargo trains to Iran through the Kazakhstan-Turkmenistan route by the end of 2017.

Director of Transportation Department at the Islamic Republic of Iran Railways Ebrahim Mohammadi made the announcement on Thursday in a ceremony to mark the arrival of a freight train from China to Iran via the Iranian city of Incheh Borun in northeastern Golestan Province bordering Turkmenistan.

“The preliminary agreement was reached in a meeting with Liang Hua whose company is in charge of the operation. The [visiting] Chinese delegation also welcomed the idea of creating a terminal near Tehran train station,” Mehr News Agency quoted him as saying.  The train left Yinchuan City of northwest China’s Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region on September 5, carrying some 560 tons of cargo, including mechanical equipment, ceramic tableware, crystalware and automobile accessories worth around $1.6 million.

"The train takes more than 20 days less than transporting by ship, and is expected to greatly lower our delivery costs," Liang was quoted as saying by Xinhua Silk Road Information Service.

This is the second time China has sent a freight train down the route to Tehran. The first train set off from Yiwu City in China’s Zhejiang Province on January 28. It covered 10,399 km, passing through Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan, to reach the border station of Sarakhs in Iran’s Khorasan Razavi Province after 14 days. The route, better known as the New Silk Road, was first proposed by He Huawu, the chief engineer of China Railway Corporation in late 2015. From Tehran, the grand project will join Iran’s East-West network leading to Turkey and eastern Europe. It could also open a way to Europe via a developing rail route from southern Iranian ports to Azerbaijan and Europe.

The Belt and Road initiative, put forward in October 2013 by Chinese President Xi Jinping, includes several corridors through land and sea, including the New Silk Road rail route, which will serve as a tailwind for the transport of goods and energy between Iran and China.

China signed a contract in Tehran back in July to finance the electrification of a strand of the New Silk Road in Iran—a 926-km railroad from Tehran to the eastern city of Mashhad in Khorasan Razavi Province with a $1.5 billion loan. According to Maziar Yazdani, the deputy head of the Islamic Republic of Iran Railways, the electrification of Tehran-Mashhad railroad will take four years.

The route is already double-tracked and both tracks will be electrified as part of the deal with the Chinese side. This will raise the speed of the line from the current 160 kph to 200 kph, significantly reducing the duration of a trip between the two cities.

For Iran, the electrification of Tehran-Mashhad line is part of its wider rail development plan to electrify all railroads by 2025.