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President Hassan Rouhani on Saturday attended the groundbreaking ceremony for the electrification of Tehran-Mashhad Railroad and the inauguration of the project to link Line 1 of Mashhad Subway to Shahid Hasheminejad Airport.
Minister of Roads and Urban Development Abbas Akhoundi and head of the Islamic Republic of Iran Railways, Mohsen Pourseyyed-Aqaei, were also present at the ceremonies, Mehr News Agency reported.
President Rouhani said expansion of rail network is among the government’s main objectives since it creates a secure environment and guarantees convenience and ease of transportation.
“Today Iran’s religious capital (Mashhad) is connected to its political capital (Tehran) by a high-speed train,” he said.
Akhoundi said rail transportation will account for 20% of Iran’s modes of transportation by the end of President Rouhani’s presidency.
According to Pourseyyed-Aqaei, Tehran-Mashhad road fatalities stand at 2,500 per year while the railroad electrification project would save the lives of 1,800 compatriots.
The project is expected to take 42 months to complete, followed by a five-year maintenance period. It will be carried out by Iranian infrastructure engineering group MAPNA and China’s CMC and SU Power.
When the line is fully modernized, 70 Chinese locomotives will zoom along the route at 250 km/h. Together with improved track and signals, this is expected to cut the journey between Tehran and Mashhad from about 12 hours to six, and increase freight capacity to 10 million tons a year.
In June, Iranian and Chinese officials finalized an agreement to electrify the line, with 85% of the $2.1 billion cost to be financed through Chinese loans.
Based on a memorandum of understanding signed between Iran’s National Railway Company and German conglomerate Siemens transportation subsidiary, Siemens Mobility, the latter is also to contribute to the development of the project by equipping the route with signaling systems, adding locomotives and offering maintenance services.