Economy, Domestic Economy

Chinese Propel Subway on Fast Track

Tehran metro carries some 4-5 million passengers every day.Tehran metro carries some 4-5 million passengers every day.

Busy wiring a semi-manufactured metro car, Siamak Ghasemi was too concentrated to notice that he was being photographed.

When realizing that half a minute later, the 36-year-old gave a bashful smile. “Please, let me tidy my coverall first.”

“I first put on this coverall 10 years ago,” said the young “veteran” worker of a Tehran-based factory under Tehran Wagon Manufacturing Co. (TWM), a joint venture between Iran and China’s CNR Changchun Railway Vehicles Co. and NORINCO International Cooperation Co.

“China is cutting-edge in the development of subway and railway transportation. It always has great things to share with Iran,” said Ghasemi, who was sent to China twice for training in 2007 and 2010.

“At the very beginning, we imported from China; then we learned to assemble; now, with China’s help, things are getting more localized and we have our own production line,” he told Xinhua.

Set up in 2003, the factory, now with some 960 Iranian workers and a Chinese team of about 30 people, can assemble 450 metro cars and 72 double-deck cars for intercity trains, and manufacture on its own 144 units of metro car-bodies, annually. The products are supplied to Tehran and other Iranian cities like Mashhad, Tabriz, Isfahan and Shiraz.

Metros are changing the daily life of Iranians. The Tehran Metro, for instance, carries some 4 to 5 million passengers per day. Five lines, all built by Chinese companies, are in service in the capital, and two more are under construction.

Roads in Tehran are usually fully jammed, largely as a result of gasoline prices being as low as 0.28 US dollars per liter and the common use of cheap second-hand cars.

“More and more people prefer to travel green now,” Sadat Kharaj told Xinhua while waiting at Chitgar, a station on Line 5’s extension in western Tehran.

“I used to drive to work. That took no less than one hour. But subway takes about half the time, and intervals are no more than 10 minutes,” said the 40-year-old English teacher. “But still, I think we need more lines, more frequent trains and more metro cars.”

Davood Shadmani, head of the TWM factory, is fully aware of such a demand.

“Iran has gained a lot from its Chinese partners. And the road ahead is clear: we hope more cooperation can be carried out as for the latest metro and railroad technologies that China masters,” said Shadmani.