TEHRAN -- President Ebrahim Raisi on Friday opened a key rail line in northwest Iran that will shorten travel time to the metropolitan city of Tabriz by four hours.
The railway connects Bostanabad to Khavaran some 29 kilometers from Tabriz, covering a distance of 44 kilometers. The section is part of the connection between Khavaran and Miyaneh, which is now as good as complete.
The railway connection between Tabriz and Miyaneh has been a hurdle in western Iranian railway transportation for years. Until now, trains had to take a major detour. As a result of the new railway connection, trains can connects between the cities directly and Iran will have a faster domestic logistics channel from East to West.
The rail way line could even have more potential if the connection from Khavaran to Tabriz is completed, the last missing link.
Amir Ashri, who works for the Iranian firm MAPNA Locomotive, explained that this Miyaneh-Bostanabad-Tabriz project still needs some final touches.
The final section between Khavaran and Tabriz needs to be completed in the future. Once the line has been fully finalized, it will be part of the southern route of the Silk Road, said Ashri.
The southern route of the New Silk Road runs through Iran and Turkey instead of Kazakhstan and Russia. The railway link between Tabriz and Turkey is already there. If the railway link between Khavaran and Tabriz is completed, the Miyaneh-Bostanabad-Tabriz line is connected to Turkey.
Apart from being part of the southern route of the Silk Road, the railway is also considered as the southern route of the Trans Asia Railways (TAR). Initiated back in the 1950s, TAR envisions a gigantic rail connection between Singapore and Istanbul, extending over a length of 14,080 kilometers.
The southern corridor in TAR aims to create a rail connection over Turkey, Iran, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Myanmar, and Thailand, with extended railways running from China to Southeast Asian countries. In 2006, an extensive Intergovernmental Agreement on the Trans-Asian Railway Network was developed, involving 25 countries in the project, with a lengthy document illustrating the to-be-constructed railways for each country.
This agreement encompasses almost all Central Asian countries, China and India, as well as some Republic of Korea and Iran, with the latest development such as China
and Laos railway. Nevertheless, the development of this massive rail project has come in an expected slow fashion, if not far-fetched.
Obstacles across those 25 countries are quite obvious, one of which is gauge differences. Roaming across the southern corridor of TAR, one could spot at least three types of gauges. Iran and Turkey use the standard gauge (1,435 mm), while India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka use the so-called Indian gauge (1,676 mm). Moreover, most of the countries in Southeast Asia employ the metre gauge (1,000 mm).
Thus, for a journey starting from Bangkok, if the cargo manages to transport all the way via rail to Istanbul, it will first have to change from meter gauge to Indian gauge (from Myanmar to Bangladesh), then switch to the standard gauge when it passes Pakistan and enters Iran.
Copper Cathode Production
President Raisi also opened a copper cathode production plant in Varzeqan where Iran’s second largest copper reserves.
The plant uses heap leaching method to process 14 million metric tonnes of copper ore per year and produce 3,000tonnes of cathode.
Raisi told a crowd of people in Tabriz that an independent company had been set up to control the copper industry in the region.
The Sungun copper mine, the largest open-cast copper mine in Iran, has been controlled by National Iranian Copper Industries Co. (NICICO) a company that is mostly focused on vast copper mines and smelters in Iran’s southeastern province of Kerman.
Raisi said the new independent company would spend its entire revenue in projects in East Azarbaijan and will operate independent of the NICICO.
No Retreat in Face of Enemies
President Raisi insists his government will not back down from ensuring sustainable economic growth despite the brutal U.S.-led sanctions against Tehran, further underlining his administration’s determination to tackle existing problems.
“We do not view surrender and retreat as the way to deal with the conspiracies and plots of our enemies. We are determined to solve problems. We can overcome such challenges only by means of becoming strong and building a strong Iran,” he told a group of religious scholars, clerics and Friday prayer leaders in Tabriz.
He said the enemies have been devising conspiracies over the past 44 years to undermine the Islamic establishment in Iran.
“Despite all the hardship imposed on the Iranian nation, the people have turned all threats and sanctions into opportunities,” he said.
The president touched on the challenges that his administration has been facing ever since it took office in early August 2021 and the steps that the government has taken to confront them, namely overcoming budget deficit without borrowing directly from the Central Bank of Iran (CBI), controlling liquidity growth, significantly increasing production, ensuring food security through timely supply of basic commodities, setting records in foreign trade and expanding trade exchanges especially with neighboring countries.
Raisi said the enemies have resorted to spreading rumors, targeting the psychological status of the nation with inaccurate economic figures, and falsely suggesting high levels of inflation as parts of their persisting cognitive and hybrid warfare against Iran in efforts to hinder the nation’s progress.
“Despite all these conspiracies, we are trying to stabilize the country’s economy. With trust in God as well as people’s support and help, we will definitely succeed in this path,” he said.
Raisi said U.S. authorities have admitted that Washington’s so-called campaign of “maximum pressure” against the Islamic Republic has failed to achieve its evil aims.