Iran reports major boost in freight transport per rail
Rail freight transport volumes in Iran have increased rapidly since March this year. In the period 21st of March – 8th of August, transit of goods via railway increased by 55 per cent compared the same period last year. A year-on-year comparison in January indicated a growth of 14 per cent. The Iranian calendar year starts on 21st of March.
In the past Iranian calendar year, 1.2 million tonnes of freight was moved via the national railway network. Iran expects a total volume of 1.8 million tonnes this year. So far, the volume has exceeded 470,000 tonnes. In terms of tonne-kilometers, 27.5 billion of cargo was transported via rail last year. This number is expected to reach 43 billion tonne-kilometers this year, Tehran Times reported.
The Iranian government has the ambition to move 30 per cent of its freight per rail by the end of its current Five-Year National Development Plan (2021). Since March this year it signed four memorandums of understandings with the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) for the promotion of railway transportation.
On Monday, the government announced it had signed an agreement with neighbouring Turkey, including the plan to increase the volume of annual rail freight transit between the countries to one million tonnes, reported the Financial Tribune. The rail connection serving this purpose will pass through Azerbaijan, crossing the Razi border. This border crossing witnessed an increase in rail freight transit volumes of 46 per cent in the first three months of the Iranian calendar year, compared to the same period last year.
Since trade relations between Iran and Europe have improved, the Iranian government has looked into the possibility of an Iran-Europe rail corridor, with Germany as its final destination and Turkey as an important transit country. Another potential route crosses western Europe to the Black Sea, where freight can be shipped to Georgia and then carried by train to Iran, Islamic Republic of Iran Railway’s board member, Hossein Ashouri was as saying to the Financial Tribune. German firms DHL, DB Cargo and DB Schenker are said to be included in planning the network.
Iran and Azerbaijan extensively word together on an improved rail network through the region as part of the International North–South Transport Corridor (INSTC) project. A south-west offshoot of this corridor already connects Iran, Azerbaijan, the Black Sea and Europe. Recently, a a uniform tariff policy is drafted to stimulate safe and rapid transportation.