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Suburban Trains to Mark Transport Turning Point

The parliament approved a proposal made by the Ministry of Roads and Urban Development on Sunday to establish a suburban railroad company
Around 1.2 million passengers commute to and from Tehran every day.Around 1.2 million passengers commute to and from Tehran every day.
About 500,000 cars drive into and the same number of cars drives out of the city, which constitute 20% of all the automobiles plying the capital city’s roads

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), said the chairman of the board of directors of the Industrial Development and Renovation Organization of Iran.

“Some 2,500 wagons are needed for suburban railroads by 2025, therefore an average of 250 cars should be added to the system every year,” Mansour Moazemi added.  

Worsening traffic and air pollution of Iranian cities have prompted government officials, including Minister of Roads and Urban Development Abbas Akhoundi, to consider the development of suburban trains as a remedy to these problems.

He recently published an opinion piece in the Persian daily Donya-e-Eqtesad titled “A Turning Point for Transportation and Urban Development”. Excerpts follow:

On Sunday, the parliament approved a proposal made by the Ministry of Roads and Urban Development to establish a suburban railroad company. Tehran’s polluted air has become the talk of the town these days. The primary sources of air pollution are high emissions of cars and traffic jams, which issue is not limited to Tehran. It is the major problem of all metropolises.   

Only in Tehran, about 500,000 cars drive into and the same number of cars drives out of the city, which constitute 20% of all the automobiles plying the capital city’s roads. The average level of pollution they cause is probably higher than those within the city.

Around 1.2 million passengers also commute to and from Tehran every day. Ensuring their safety and providing their comfort will be guaranteed by suburban trains. All 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.

Mobility within the city will improve through the rapid development of public transportation, both qualitatively and quantitatively, by the government and the municipalities. The complete package includes development of urban, suburban and intercity rail systems that need a complementary policy in the urban development system.

Rail-oriented urban development is a necessity, which should complement the suburban railroad system. These two fundamental solutions require a sea change in the attitude toward urban settlement and movement of citizens. This is a seismic change in urban development and people’s lifestyle.

Pursuing the highway construction policy would ultimately result in car-oriented development of cities and consequently traffic and air pollution, whereas the preferred modern-day approaches are aimed at facilitating people’s mobility by means of public transportation.

The approval of the proposal on establishment of suburban rail company is welcome news and should be regarded as a good omen. The measure is a harbinger of a complete about-face on transportation system and urban settlement.

Fortunately, the secretariat of the High Council of Urban Development and Architecture of Iran is working on the first draft of the strategies on public transportation-based urban development, which will be hopefully ratified at the meeting of the secretariat next week. It could mark a new chapter in Iran’s urban development system.

Three inter-city, suburban and urban rail networks have to be connected closely to move passengers from their departure point to their destination. These three and other modes of transport must be integrated based on the principles of Transit Oriented Development.

[In urban planning, a transit-oriented development is a type of urban development that maximizes the amount of residential, business and leisure space within walking distance of public transport.] Over 90% of the world’s TODs are rail-based.

 

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