Road Transport | Major Corridors and Roadways
Road transport is one of the most popular methods of cross-country freighting. Ample roads have made it possible to ship goods to virtually all corners of the country. Iran's network of roads connect Turkey, Nakhichevan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Iraq and Turkmenistan, on the one side, to Turkmenistan, Afghanistan and Pakistan on the other.
There are 176,615 kilometres of arterial routes in Iran, 2,176 kilometres of which are four-lane highways, 816 kilometres are major freeways, 56,733 kilometres are main roads and 90,906 kilometres are byroads.
Supervised by the Organisation of State Transport and Terminals, the transport network is administered by 3,300 firms, three per cent of which are public and the remaining are owned by the private sector.
Measures are under way to increase productivity of the nation-wide transport networks. According to estimates, completion of the north-south corridor is forecast to cost one billion dollars. Meanwhile, experts say once the route is completed, it will earn the state 150-300 dollars in revenues annually.
Major Corridors of Transport
1. Northern Track 1: It starts from the north-eastern towns of Sarakhs, Lotfabad, Bajgiran and Inche Borun and connects Tehran via Bazargan, Sero and Razi to Turkey.
2. Northern Track 2: It starts from the north-eastern areas and joins passageways in the north-west.
3. Central Track: It starts out from two branches one the northern and the other in the south-eastern areas such as Dogharoon and Mirjave. The track connects the central cities of Tehran and Isfahan to the border point of Khosravi and other spots in the north-west and south.
1. Western Track: It runs from Astara, Bilesavar and Jolfa through to the ports of Imam Khomeini, Khorramshahr and Abadan.
2. Eastern-Central Track: It runs from the northern ports of and the border points in the north-west and north-east of the country through to the central cities to Bandar Abbas, Chabahar and Bushehr.
The north-south corridor is an arterial route between the Central Asia, Transcaucasia and the Russian Federation, on the one hand, and the Persian Gulf and East Africa, on the other.
Islamic Republic of Iran Railways
The Islamic Republic of Iran Railways (IR) is the national state-owned railway system of Iran. Raja Passenger Train Company is an associate of the IR and manages its passenger trains including international trains between Tehran and Istanbul and Tehran and Damascus. The Railway Transportation Company is an associate of the IR to manage its freight transport. The Iranian Ministry of Roads and Transportation is the state agency that oversees the IR.
Network and corridors
The railway network converges on Tehran and connects all major parts of the country with the exception of the Southeast. Importantly, Iran lies at the crossroads of East-West and North-South transportation corridors that are active or potentially active. The western railway extension links to Turkey at the Razi–Kapikoi border. A northern connection to Azerbaijan, the Caucasus, and Russia has a bogie-changing station at the border at Jolfa. The southern routes connect Tehran to the Persian Gulf ports of Bandar Imam and Bandar Abbas. A line to the Caspian Sea ends at the terminal of Amir Abad and at Bandar Torkaman, and is part of a North-South corridor to Russia and Scandinavia. The north-east corridor connects Mashad and continues further to the bogie-changing station at Sarakh. For the landlocked countries of Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Kazakhstan, this line provides access to the sea. A recent connection from Mashad to Bafqh has significantly shortened access to the harbor of Bandar Abbas.
Link to Central Asia
In recent years the railways have undergone significant extensions including the 1977 linking to the western railway system at the Turkish border, the 1993 opening of the Bandar Abbas line providing better access to the sea, and the 1996 opening of the Mashad–Sarakhs branch as part of the Silk Road railway to link to the landlocked Central Asian Countries. Former states of the Soviet Union have railways using a wider gauge, thus the Iranian Railways maintain break-of-gauge services at borders to Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan, and beyond brief wide-track rail segments to the border crossing. In 2007, Russian Railways, Iranian Railways and Azerbaijani State Railways agreed on implementing the project to build a new railways line between Qazvin, Resht, Astara (Iran) and Astara (Azerbaijan).
International Standard Gauge route to Europe
The route to the west into Turkey terminates at Van with a 90km (55 mile) train ferry for both freight wagons and international passenger traffic (baggage car only) across Lake Van, which is at an altitude of 1650m, to Tatvan. The standard gauge route continues via Ankara to Istanbul via another train ferry between the Haydarapasa terminus on the eastern side of the Bosphorus and the Sirecki terminus on the European shore. This crossing will be bypassed by the Marmaray Crossing, a dual track rail tunnel, due to open in 2009.
Link to Pakistan
Current projects include a line from Kerman eastward via Bam to Zahedan to link up with Pakistan and connect to Quetta. This connection will bridge the last gap of rail connection between the Indian subcontinent and Europe. The link is due to open by December 2008 (confirmed by Chief of Iranian Railways in mid-2007). Various sections can be seen under construction on Google Earth maps updated to 2007. A bogie changing station is under construction south of Zahedan but Iran Railways is seeking to persuade Pakistan Railways to convert its route to Quetta to standard gauge to facilitate the flow of international traffic to Europe. Pakistan responded in 2006 with a statement that it is to convert its network to standard gauge (1.435m), and would plan a link with the standard gauge system of China.
Iran has a long paved road system linking most of its towns and all of its cities. In 2002 the country had 178,152 km (111,000 mi) of roads, of which 66 percent were paved. There were 30 passenger cars for every 1,000 inhabitants. Trains operated on 6,405 km (3,980 mi) of railroad track. The country’s 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. The Tehran-Bandar-Abbas railroad, opened in 1995, connects Bandar-Abbas to the railroad system of Central Asia via Tehran and Mashhad. Other major ports include Bandar e-Anzali and Bandar e-Torkeman on the Caspian Sea and Korramshahr and Bandar e-Khomeyni on the Persian Gulf. Dozens of cities have airports that serve passenger and cargo planes. Iran Air, the national airline, was founded in 1962 and operates domestic and international flights. All large cities have mass transit systems using buses, and several private companies provide bus service between cities. Tehran, Mashhad, Shiraz, Tabriz, Ahvaz and Esfahan are in the process of constructing underground mass transit rail lines.
Railway links with adjacent countries
- Afghanistan - planned
- Azerbaijan - break-of-gauge 1435mm/1524mm
- Armenia - not known - break of gauge 1435mm/1524mm
- Iraq - part under construction, part planned.
- one longish link heads directly for the Iraqi capital
- one short link of about 50km links Khorramshahr to Basra and is due for completion in 2006.
- Pakistan - break-of-gauge 1435mm/1676mm - missing link from Bam to Zahedan is under construction.
- Turkey - via Lake Van - train ferry - yes - 1435mm
- Turkmenistan - break-of-gauge 1435mm/1524mm
Ports and harbors
Abadan (largely destroyed in fighting during 1980-88 war), Ahvaz, Bandar Abbas, Bandar-e Anzali (Caspian sea), Bushehr, Bandar-e Emam Khomeyni, Bandar-e Lengeh, Bandar-e Mahshahr, Bandar-e Torkaman (Caspian sea), Chabahar (Bandar-e Beheshti), Kharg island, Lavan island, Sirri island, Khorramshahr (limited operation since November 1992), Noshahr (Caspian sea)
Getting There by Water
The main port was Khorramshahr until its destruction during the war with Iraq. It is currently under reconstruction. The ports of Abbas and Bushehr are to be found in the Persian Gulf and Nowshahr and Anzelli on the Caspian Sea. P&O Ferries connects Iranian ports with Persian Gulf States and Karachi.
Getting There by Rail
RAJA Trains (part of Iranian Islamic Republic Railways) operates passenger services from Tehran to Isanbul (Turkey) and Damascus (Syrian Arab Republic); from Tabiz to Djolfa (for the CIS) and Van (Turkey); and from Zahedan to Quetta (Pakistan). The Qom-Zahedan Line, when completed, will link Europe with India. Contact RAJA Trains (c/o Iranian Islamic Republic Railways) (website: www.irirw.com) for details.
Getting There by Road
No reliable international through-road links. There are various routes possible from Turkey and Pakistan, but these are not recommended. Cars can also be put on boats at Venice or Brindisi and picked up at Ezmir. For details of political conditions governing access, contact the embassy.