Iran finishes line section that puts Chabahar port on railway maps

Photo: PixabayJavad Esmaeili.

The significance of Chabahar’s port in the supply chain between Russia and India via Iran is apparent in India’s willingness to invest heavily and develop it further. Yet, what is considered a crucial transport gateway, lacks a rail connection to Iran’s central network and the corridors spanning it. This seems to be changing since the first section of the Zahedan-Chabahar railway line is nearing completion and will be inaugurated soon.

Like other infrastructure projects in Iran, the Zahedan-Chabahar line has been on the country’s priority list for some years. Reports of Iranian media claimed that the line was nearing completion since 2019. For the years that followed, the situation was the same: the responsible institutions kept expecting the project to finish by the end of each year, with no completion taking place in the end.

However, this time things are different. The Zahedan-Chabahar line might not complete construction as a whole. However, at least the first section connecting Zahedan with Khash is 95 per cent ready.

Ready for inauguration

While overviewing the transport infrastructure projects (both rail and road) taking place in Iran, Khairale Khademi, the country’s deputy minister of roads and urban development, highlighted that several rail infrastructure projects are nearing completion by 75 per cent. Some of them are the Mianeh-Bostan Abad railway, the Rasht-Anzali railway, the Mianeh-Ardebil railway, and last but not least, the Zahedan-Khash railway.

The Rasht-Anzali railway has been in the spotlight before. However, the Zahedan-Khash line is of great importance since it will commence linking the port of Chabahar on the railway network. The total length of the Zahedan-Chabahar line will be 630 kilometres when completed. The Zahedan-Khash line covers 154 kilometres out of the total length. Since it is 95 per cent ready, Khademi mentioned that only the final touches remain, and the line will be inaugurated and begin operations soon.

INSTC variation

With the line’s completion in the future-it should take 3 to 4 years until fully operational; Iran will not only link rail services at the port of Chabahar. On top of that, it will facilitate the operability of its eastern railway corridor that spans between Afghanistan and India (including a sea leg), which is also part of the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC).

The full Zahedan-Chabahar railway section. Photo: GoogleMaps

When talking about the INSTC, the Rasht-Astara railway line, also in Iran, is the one coming to mind. However, to avoid any confusion, it should be mentioned that the INSTC does not follow only one route. The Rasht-Astara railway line will become the key to completing the corridor’s western section, while the Zahedan-Chabahar will contribute accordingly to the corridor’s eastern section.

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Author: Nikos Papatolios

Nikos Papatolios is editor of RailFreight.com, the online magazine for rail freight professionals.

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