Railway development highly dependent on private sector’s involvement

Tehran Times – Expanded transportation via railway is today one of the major pillars of sustainable development for the countries; and it is why the governments usually allocate noticeable funds and resources to development of railway.

In Iran, development of railway has been a very significant plans of the governments in recent year.

The country’s Sixth Five-Year National Development Plan (2016-2021) has envisaged that the railway will account for at least 30 percent of cargo transportation and 20 percent of passenger transportation in the country.

Such target requires at least 850 trillion rials (about $20.238 billion) of investment.

The required investment and also the necessity of empowering domestic production have led the government to take the advantage of private sector’s capabilities.

Islamic Republic of Iran Railways (known as RAI) has been witnessing private sector’s high contribution to development of railway sector in different fields from building rails to manufacturing locomotives and wagons in the past few years.

Last year, during the 6th International Exhibition of Rail Transportation, Related Industries and Equipment of Iran, dubbed RAILEXPO 2018, the country unveiled the first ever Iranian-made locomotive engine.

And then in mid-June of this year, Mapna Group unveiled the first Iranian-made freight locomotive on the sidelines of the 7th edition of the mentioned exhibition.

In early August, RAI Head Saeed Rasouli said that domestic manufacturers are set to supply over 1,000 locomotives and wagons and also 40,000 tons of rails to RAI by the end of the next Iranian calendar year (March 20, 2021).

He said: “After Mapna Group unveiled their first Iranian-made freight locomotive, RAI ordered the company to manufacture a series of freight and passenger wagons and locomotives, which their production will begin soon.”

“Mapna will soon begin the manufacturing process and the wagons will gradually enter the country’s rail fleet within the next two years,” Rasouli said.

He also mentioned the manufacturing of rail segments in the country (in a project called National Rail) saying the manufacturing of national rail is also underway and the country is self-sufficient in this regard.

And during a ceremony on Tuesday, some 213 new domestically-made locomotives and wagons were added to the railway fleet of the country.

While contributing to manufacturing of locomotives and wagons, private sector is also acting well in renovation projects.

As the passenger wing of RAI, Iranian Raja Railway Transport Company has signed deals with three domestic companies namely Wagon Pars Company, Novin Sanat Raja Company and Ehya Sanat Co. for renovating 124 passenger wagons that are over 30 years old.

Raja has also signed a deal with Wagon Pars Company for manufacturing of 41 passenger wagons, of which 33 wagons have been handed to Raja.

All the mentioned measures signify the high involvement of private sector in the railway development, but as the country already lags behind its objective for the railway sector envisaged in the Sixth National Development Plan, more contribution of private sector is required both to investment making and to manufacturing.

And it is an issue that according to the experts of transportation sector requires Ministry of Transport and also RAI to review their policies and regulations for more presence of the private sector.