The trucks wait in long queues at the logistics terminal near Tehran...
In Iran, the overwhelming bulk of freight is transported by road. Traffic jams are normal, especially around the Iranian capital. It’s eighteen million residents and the automobile industry which is based here, have a huge appetite for raw materials. But Reza Shakeri, the head of the state Iran railway for the Tehran region says there is an alternative, he talks about the eleven thousand kilometers of railway routes that cross Iran, about the same distance is under construction.
Mr. Shakeri “Our goal is to be moving around 30 percent of all freight by rail, we are still a long way from that, at the moment just over 10 percent is traveling by rail. If we are going to raise that, we have to improve all aspects of our infrastructure.”
In Aprin, just south of Tehran, the two most important railway lines in the Middle East cross each other. One runs from the port of Bandar Abbas on the Persian Gulf in the south to Azerbaijan in the north, the other runs east-west from Afghanistan to Iraq.
The Switzerland “Transinvest” logistics group wants to invest 30 million US dollars in the next two and the half years to build the country’s most modern freight hub, covering an area the size of eighty football fields.
Mr. Amir Hossein Pak (PTB project manager) “We are planning to build the dry port here, like a container yard here for the full container and empty container. The most of the cargo is moving by trucks, now we are planning to move the shipments by train, especially from the Bandar Abbas to Tehran by train, because it is more economical and it will be faster.”
To get long distance freight moving faster at lower cost. Reza Shakeri sees rail as the only practical solution. But he says Iran needs European logistical experience to make this happen. That experience is being brought in by private investors.
Reza Shakeri “This kind of foreign private investments is a massive help, we welcome it and we’d like to see more of it, and we are trying to remove hurdles, so that things can be done more quickly.”
Up till now Aprin sees traffic of between, six hundred and twelve hundred goods wagons a day. When a new freight terminal is completed Shakeri is counting on many times that number.