ESCO Awarded National Medal of Honor in Exports

ESCO Awarded National Medal of Honor in Exports
ESCO Awarded National Medal of Honor in Exports

Esfahan Steel Company (ESCO) was awarded the National Medal of Honor in a ceremony held to mark the 24th National Export Day on Monday.
Mansour Yazdizadeh, CEO of the company, received the award from First Vice President Es’haq Jahangiri at the event, ILNA reported.
Esfahan Steel Company is the first and largest constructional steel and rail producer in Iran and the biggest producer of long products in the Middle East.
According to Yazdizadeh, ESCO has constantly registered growth in exports, expanded its export destinations and boosted shipments to regional markets as well as those in Southeast Asia and Africa.
He added that the company prides itself in repatriating 100% of its export earnings.
“ESCO pursues two goals, namely development of Iran’s railroads by producing rail in addition to expansion of its export markets,” he added.
Latest data on steel exports from Iran show ESCO exported 641,585 tons of steel during the first eight months of the current fiscal year (March 20-Nov. 20). 
The steel mill exported 1.15 million tons during the last Iranian year (March 2019-20), up 28% compared to the previous year.



Pioneer in Domestic Rail Production

Esfahan Steel Company supplied the Construction and Development of Transportation Infrastructure Company with the first batch of domestically produced 60E1 (UIC60) rails in September 2019.
The rails were used in the Mianeh-Tabriz railroad in East Azarbaijan Province. 
The 132-kilometer-long Mianeh-Bostanabad railroad was inaugurated by President Hassan Rouhani in November. It part of the longer Mianeh-Tabriz project connecting East Azarbaijan Province to the national rail network. 
“Tens of specialists have worked on this project for more than 20 years. The research stage for the production of domestic rail has taken years to complete and today the efforts of ESCO and the Industries Ministry have borne fruit,” Minister of Roads and Urban Development Mohammad Eslami said.
The 60E1 (UIC60) rail model is manufactured according to the European standard EN 13674-1. It is a type of T-section rail, also known as flat bottom rails, with a 60.21 kg mass per meter. 
Based on the goals of the Sixth Five-Year Development Plan (2017-22), Iran is to expand its railroads to 25,000 kilometers, with every 10 kilometers requiring 500 tons of rails.
The idea of large-scale domestic rail production was first floated in 2005. It was triggered when the ruling government thwarted a deal to import 100,000 tons of rails from Spain, arguing that imports should be curbed so that domestic production can thrive.
This led to the signing of a deal between ESCO and the Islamic Republic of Iran Railways. The company’s rails, however, received a lukewarm reception due to their limited speed support and low quality compared to the global counterparts. Consequently, IRIR placed no new orders and called on ESCO to produce UIC60 rails, which could support higher speed limits.
Fast-forward to July 2014, IRIR and ESCO signed another agreement for the production of UIC60 rails, with the deadline for its delivery set for September 2015. ESCO missed the deadline and no new developments took place up until late 2016, when the company launched its new rail production line in cooperation with the German Kuttner Company.
On June 17, 2018, ESCO had delivered a first batch of U33 rails to IRIR, which contained 500 tons of U33 rails manufactured using the latest technologies and based on Europe's EN13674 standard, according to an ESCO statement.
"Producing rail based on the latest European standards was painstaking and complicated, and yet worth the pain to achieve self-sufficiency," Yazdizadeh said.
The official emphasized that ESCO is capable of meeting all of IRIR's demands with a rail output capacity of 400,000 tons per year, and will export its excess production.
ESCO signed a contract with IRIR to produce 40,000 tons of U33 rail tracks in October 2016, 10,000 of which were to be delivered by the end of the fiscal 2016-17. The company repeatedly missed the deadline and blamed IRIR for not funding production by pre-purchasing the order.
ESCO was jointly established in 1965 by Iran and the Soviet Union’s Tyazhpromexport Company in Isfahan Province.
The EN13674 standard specifies Vignoles rails (flat-bottomed rail) of 46 kg/m and greater linear mass for conventional and high-speed railroad track usage.
U33 rail tracks are capable of supporting a speed of up to 160 kilometers per hour.



Supplying Rails for Major Railway Project

ESCO is supplying rails for the massive Chabahar-Zahedan railroad project.
Iran recently signed a contract with Afghan Railway Authority to export rails to the neighboring country.
According to the Iranian Steel Producers Association, the first contract for rail export worth $4.33 million was signed with Afghanistan.
Chabahar-Zahedan railroad project requires at least 50,000 tons of rail tracks, 5,000 of which are going to be supplied by ESCO.
“With an investment of 12,000 billion rials [$48 million], the 628-kilometer railroad project connecting the southeastern port city of Chabahar to the eastern city of Zahedan near the border with Afghanistan and Pakistan has witnessed a 48% physical progress,” Abbas Khatibi, the deputy head of the Construction and Development of Transportation Infrastructures Company, said in November.
Noting that 70% of the project’s excavation works have been completed, the official said, “This large-scale project has been split into eight northern and southern sections. The southern part comprises 312 kilometers and the northern part 316 kilometers,” the Ministry of Roads and Urban Development's news portal reported.
His remarks came after Roads Minister Mohammad Eslami inaugurated the track-laying operation from Chabahar Port. 
“The track-laying from Zahedan started three months ago and thus far 32 kilometers of the railroad have been completed. A total of €300 million have been allocated to this project from the resources of the National Development Fund of Iran, of which we have received €100 million so far,” he said.
Mohammad Reza Azarian, the project manager, said 92,000 tons of rails are needed to complete the 700-kilometer track. 
According to Azarian, the UIC60 rails manufactured by Esfahan Steel Company will be used in this project.
“As per a contract with ESCO, the Isfahan-based company will supply 5,000 tons of rails in the first stage, of which 1,000 tons have been delivered. Track-laying of one kilometer of railroad is planned to be completed in one day,” he was quoted as saying by Fars News Agency. 
With the new railroad in place, 927,000 passengers and 2.8 million tons of cargo will be handled annually by March 2023. 
The average speed of freight trains will be 120 km per hour. Passenger trains will run at 160 km per hour. It will create jobs for 13,000 people and 3,000 will be involved directly in the project.    
Work on the project started in the fiscal 2010-11, only to halt for three years due to funding constraints.  
The railroad to Zahedan is crucial, as it is vital for connecting landlocked Afghanistan via Chabahar. The port in Iran’s Sistan-Baluchestan Province is strategically important for India too, allowing it easy access to Afghanistan and bypassing Pakistan. 
After connecting Iran’s only oceanic port of Chabahar to Zahedan, the railroad will be linked to Zaranj in Afghanistan. When Afghan cargo arrives in Zahedan, it can be transported to Chabahar and then to India.
Chabahar is of strategic importance for Iran as it bypasses the narrow chokepoint of Strait of Hormuz connected to the Persian Gulf.
It is 70 kilometers west of Gwadar Port, the starting point of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. The China Overseas Port Holding Company operates Gwadar Port.

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