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History of rail transport in Iran


History of rail transport in Iran

In the second half of the 19th century, during the time of Nasser-al-Din Shah, a short horse-driven suburban railway was established south of Tehran that was later converted to steam. This line was closed in 1952.

The TabrizJolfa line (146 km) was built in 1914, the SufiyanSharaf Khaneh (53 km) in 1916, and the MirjavehZahedan (93 km) in 1920.


  • World War II 1
  • Challenging construction 2
  • Railway construction 3
  • References 4

World War II

The 1,392 km (865 mi) long Trans-Iranian Railway from Bandar Torkaman on the Caspian Sea to Bandar Shahpur on the Persian Gulf was opened during the reign of Reza Shah Pahlavi in 1939. The railroad was built with rail weighing 67 pounds per yard (33 kg/m) and required more than 3000 bridges. There were 126 tunnels in the Zagros mountains. The longest was 1.5 miles. Grades averaged 1.5 percent south of Tehran, but then increased to 2.8 percent to cross the 7,270-foot pass between Tehran and the Caspian Sea. After the Anglo-Soviet invasion of Iran in 1941, this Persian Corridor became one of the supply routes for war material for the Soviet Union during World War II, (Railway trend in Iran). The British built a 75-mile (121 km) branch line from the 3000-foot (900-meter) bridge over the Karun River in Ahwaz to a new southern port at Khorramshahr on the Shatt al-Arab river. In 1943 3,473 American soldiers of the Military Railway Service began running trains between the Persian Gulf and Caspian Sea using ALCO RS-1 locomotives rebuilt with 3-axle trucks and designated RSD-1.[1] The Americans set up headquarters in Ahwaz, but were unable to tolerate the daytime heat, and generally operated the railway at night.[2]

Challenging construction

The Trans-Iranian railway traverses many mountain ranges, and is full of spirals and 1 in 36 ruling grades. Much of the terrain was unmapped when construction took place, and its geology unknown. Several stretches of line, including tunnels, were built through unsuitable geology, and had to be replaced even before the line opened. Nevertheless, the line was completed ahead of schedule.

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 MashadSarakhs extension as part of the Silk Road railway to link to the landlocked Central Asian Countries.

Railway construction[3]

165 1993—1997 254 1996—1998
Route Length in km Date of Construction
TabrizJolfa 148 1912—1916
ZahedanMirjaveh 94 1920—1921
TehranBandar Torkaman 461 1928—1938
TehranBandar Imam Khomeini 928 1928—1939
AhvazKhorramshahr 121 1942—1943
Sar BandarMashhad 12 1950—1951
GarmsarMashhad 812 1938—1958
TehranTabriz 736 1939—1959
Bandar Torkaman 35 1960—1961
TabrizBazargan 192 1912—1971
QomZarand 847 1939—1971
IsfahanZarrin Shahr 111 1969—1972
ZarandKerman 80 1975—1979
BafqBandar-Abbas 626 1982—1995
ArpinMaleki 24 1993—1997
ArpinMohammediya-2 122 1994—1999
ChadormaluMeibod 219 1992—1999
Мohammediya-2Мohammediya-1 6 1994—1999
BafqKashmar 800 1992—2001
IsfahanShiraz 506 2009
Kerman - Zahedan 546 2009


  1. ^ Pinkepank, Jerry A. The Second Diesel Spotter's Guide 1973 Kalmbach Books p.233
  2. ^ DeNevi & Hall United States Military Railway Service (1992) Boston Mills Press ISBN 1-55046-021-8 pp.8&73-77
  3. ^ [1]
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