Roadmap to Bolster Role of Railroad in Urban Development

Domestic Economy Desk
The newly-ratified roadmap stresses expansion of suburban trains whose development has not been a priority under the past governments
Roadmap to Bolster Role of Railroad in Urban Development
Roadmap to Bolster Role of Railroad in Urban Development
About 1.2 million passengers commute to and from Tehran every day

The High Council of Urban Development and Architecture of Iran has recently ratified the "Public Transportation-Based Development Roadmap", a set of strategies for expansion of various modes of public transportation, railroad in particular, in Iran.

Affiliated to the Ministry of Roads and Urban Development, the council devises and oversees rules and regulations pertaining to urban development and development of transportation.

The roadmap, devised by the ministry’s office for promoting structural development in the field, was approved on June 12 after more than two years of research and planning.

It is based on the concept of “rail-oriented urbanization”, one of the signature policies of Roads and Urban Development Minister Abbas Akhoundi, which is based on development of railroad and its integration into other modes of transportation to make passenger transport more efficient.

The office carries out research projects based on the ministry’s general strategies in the transportation sector and urban development.

"The plan is based on the use of rails as the main mode of public transportation,” Zohreh Davoudpour, director general of the office, told Financial Tribune in an interview.

“One of the main characteristics of railroad is that it allows for control of population distribution and economic activities,” she said.

“Population growth and economic activity are often focused on the location of train stations, as opposed to roads where there is far less control over expansion of residential areas.”

> Suburban Trains

Referring to two other major benefits of railroads, namely reduced air pollution and transport costs, Davoudpour stressed the need to overhaul Iran's public transport policies.

“Rail-oriented urbanization calls for integrating the city and public transport system,” she said.

Air pollution has reached alarming levels in Iran’s metropolises.

In Tehran alone, official figures show a majority of people commuting to and from the capital city do not use public transport, adding that 500,000 cars ply into the big city on a daily basis.

Commuter cars constitute 20% of all automobiles plying the capital city’s roads.

To facilitate the transportation of those commuting to the big cities every day, the newly-ratified roadmap stresses expansion of suburban trains whose development has not been a priority under the past governments.

“The roadmap is focused on development of suburban trains in Iran’s big cities. Expansion of suburban lines in Tehran, Mashhad, Tabriz and Isfahan will be on the agenda,” Davoudpour said.

The total length of Iran’s suburban rail network is 11,000 kilometers whereas the country needs 25,000 kilometers by 2025 as per the goals of the 20-Year Vision Plan (2005-25), according to the Industrial Development and Renovation Organization of Iran.

Akhoundi and other transport officials have on many occasions highlighted the importance of expansion of suburban rails for tackling transportation issues facing Tehran and other big cities.

“Around 1.2 million passengers commute to and from Tehran every day. Ensuring their safety and providing for their comfort will be guaranteed by suburban trains,” read an article the minister wrote early January for the Persian daily Donya-e-Eqtesad.

“Major world countries have gone down the same path and no other solution has been worked out for the problem of air pollution and road traffic better than the commuter rail system,” he said.

> Inter-City Trains

The roadmap is focused on development of train stations as well as intra- and inter-city railroads.

Davoudpour believes urban trains should become more integrated with other transportation modes to facilitate the mobility of passengers inside the city.

As part of the roadmap, the government is to relocate some of the train stations located outside city borders and move them closer to concentrated populations.

The roadmap also stresses the need to preserve old train stations of historical value, by limiting constructions in these buildings.

As for inter-city railroads, the policy prioritizes rail connections to five provincial capitals among the thousands of kilometers of railroads Iran currently has under construction.

Back in May, a 267-km line between Tehran and Hamedan’s provincial capital came on stream. Four other provincial capitals have been planned to join Iran’s rail network by March 2018.

These projects include Qazvin-Rasht, the Gharb (West) Project connecting the city of Arak in the central Markazi Province to Khosravi Border Crossing in the western Kermanshah Province bordering Iraq, Mahabad-Urmia and Mianeh-Bostanabad.

Iran has 3,500 kilometers of railroads under construction.

According to Akhoundi, the government will operate 1,800 kilometers of railroads by the end of the current Iranian year (March 20, 2018).


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