Modernizing Surface Transport Vital

Modernizing Surface Transport VitalModernizing Surface Transport Vital

Iran’s road and highway networks should be modernized to meet global standards, economic expert Bahman Arman stressed.

A well-laid transport infrastructure is the foundation of economic growth and many industrialized countries emerged by expanding their surface transport, whereas Iran is still facing challenges in this sector, he said, quoted by Khabar Online.

Economically developed countries rank high in terms of advancement in rail and air transport as they are important modes of transferring people and raw materials to factories and manufacturing firms.

Post-war Italy, which faced a financial crunch, is a remarkable case in point. Since the country enjoys beautiful beaches, Italy embarked upon constructing a 1000 kilometer long freeway to entice tourists from northern and central Europe lacking the same attractions.

Arman said: “We need to advance Iran’s road construction technology to catch up with global standards. This will also help accelerate the country’s economic development.”

The Isfahan-Shiraz railway track opened a few years ago “with technology that can be traced back to the pre-revolution period.” Passengers are on board for 12 hours for a 700 kilometer trip, a distance that is covered in an hour and a half or two in other countries via high-speed trains at 300 km/h.

He also noted that iron ore is still carried to steel factories by trucks, leading to high manufacturing costs and expensive domestic production of steel products compared to other countries. Further, a great deal of fruit is ruined during transportation to the southern parts due to the long distance and poor state of roads in some regions.


Iran’s strategic position cannot be efficiently exploited since it lacks adequate railroads and highways. Expanding two-lane roads into four-lanes used to be a strategy employed by countries after World War II to prevent traffic congestion. Today such a method in lieu of “highways” is pointless since the scheme “reduces neither fuel use nor distance.”

The transport infrastructure needs an urgent makeover. The highway network is 10,000 kilometers short of the actual requirement, and there are no key development projects for an easy and inexpensive link between the northern and southern borders.

The Tabriz-Bazargan transit highway project is still to be executed despite a number of “inauguration ceremonies”, while the partial Qazvin-Astara freeway goes only as far as Rasht. The Tehran-Imam Khomeini Port highway, another key project connecting the north to the south, also remains incomplete.

“The ministry of roads and urban development should avoid expenditure on expanding the present road network and instead put the funds to better use by constructing highways that shorten distance and decrease fuel use,” Arman said, adding that “further railway construction must be halted for the time being unless we are talking about high-speed rail.”


Transport in Iran is inexpensive because of the subsidization of gasoline. The downside is a huge draw on government coffers, economic inefficiency because of wasteful consumption patterns, and air pollution. In 2008, more than one million people worked in the transportation sector, accounting for 9% of the gross domestic product (GDP).

Iran has a long paved road system linking most of its towns and all of its cities. In 2011 the country had 173,000 km of roads, of which 73% were paved. In 2008 there were nearly 100 passenger cars for every 1,000 inhabitants. Trains operated on 11,106 km of railroad track. The major port of entry is Bandar-Abbas on the Strait of Hormuz. After arriving in Iran, imported goods are distributed throughout the country by trucks and freight trains.