Iran, China negotiate $2bn railroad deal
Iran says it is negotiating a deal with China to launch a railway project which will link the Iranian capital, Tehran, to northwestern provinces in the country.
The project is estimated to cost between USD 1.5bn and USD 2bn and is expected to be completed within the next 2.5 years, Fars News Agency quoted Iranian Minister of Road and Transportation Hamid Behbahani as saying on Saturday.
The railroad is to link Tehran to the cities of Arak, Malayer, Hamedan, Kermanshah and the bordering town of Khosravi.
Iranian officials have announced future plans to expand the railroad westward to Iraq and ultimately to Syria and the Mediterranean littoral states.
If finalized, the project will improve transport links between the cited countries while providing significant economic, social and political benefits for the bordering cities and the region as a whole.
Iran and Iraq have centuries-old religious and cultural ties. According to Iran’s Hajj and Pilgrimage Organization, each day 5,000 Iranian pilgrims travel to Iraq to visit the Muslim holy cities of Najaf and Karbala, located south of the Iraqi capital, Baghdad.
The railroad project is being negotiated with Chinese firms as Iran has further plans to build a railway from Hormozgan in the south of the country to Ghazvin, Rasht, Astara, and then onto Russia and Europe.