China building railroads in Iran as part of Belt and Road initiative

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BISHKEK (TCA) — China Civil Engineering Construction Corp has signed a contract worth 3.53 billion yuan ($543.6 million) to build a 263-kilometer railroad in Iran, Iran’s Financial Tribune reports.

The Chinese company signed the contract with Iran’s Construction & Development of Transportation Infrastructures Company, the Chinese The Global Times daily reported.

Following the removal of nuclear-related sanctions against Iran, the country has attracted unprecedented Chinese funding for various infrastructural projects, including in the rail sector.

Chinese state-owned investment arm CITIC Group recently established a $10 billion credit line and China Development Bank is considering $15 billion more.

Iranian officials say the deals are part of Beijing’s $124 billion Belt and Road initiative, which aims to build new infrastructure—from highways and railroads to ports and power plants—between China and Europe to pave the way for trade expansion.

In eastern Iran, Chinese workers are modernizing one of the country’s major rail routes, standardizing gauge sizes, improving the track bed and rebuilding bridges, with the ultimate goal of connecting Iran to Turkmenistan and Afghanistan.

In western Iran, railroad crews are working to link the capital to Turkey and, eventually, to Europe.

China has provided a $1.6 billion loan to fund the electrification of the high-speed 926-km railroad from Tehran to the eastern city of Mashhad.

Tehran-Mashhad Railroad is a segment of the so-called New Silk Road — a 3,200-kilometer rail project to link Urumqi, the capital of China’s western Xinjiang Province, to the Iranian capital Tehran, connecting Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan along the way.

From Tehran, the grand project will join Iran’s east-west network leading to Turkey and Eastern Europe.

Sergey Kwan

TCA