Can Trains Replace Trucks in Iran?

Although Iran is the only railway connected country left within neighbours of Turkey in eastern direction, trucks had been the main transport alternative for a long time.

Especially Iran trucks used to offer very good rates which easily covers their unreliability. More than 80% of the overland traffic is done by Iran trucks. Turkish trucks were the second alternative, providing more trustful service. They are almost the only choice for transit loads. Railway is the last choice, with only 159k to carried by trains in 2013 including transports to CIS countries.

But things change..

Mutual attemps of both countries end up with a rise of 50% in truck rates in October 2014. A number of discouraging regulations followed. Even with increased rates, trucks waited at borders upto 15 days due to this changed procedures. Crisis was handled by high level officers, and some of the problems solved. Fees now replaced with restrictions about fuel usage which at the end means increase in costs anyway.

Nobody could afford such an increase in cost and transit times, so a huge “railway rush” was faced in last 2 months. Iran inquiries have never been so dense before. A lot of forwarders from Turkey, Iran and Turkmenistan got in contact with railway forwarders. One of the Turkish companies had even received an order of 300 wagons of transport.

This would have been a new era for railways. Railways would help industry to get over this crisis and industry will take railways into consideration more seriously after the crisis. This might have happened if railways could have met this huge increase in demand.

But it did not..

Huge congestion in Tatvan due to the limited service of Van Lake Ferry, once again, became one of the biggest barrier for this opportunity. Hundreds of wagons were delayed. New orders for Iran should wait for a while.

The rail ferry service is trying to be done with very small ferries, where one train has to be splitted into at least three. Thus, 1.4 train per day, which is the average of rail freight traffic in Iran direction can hardly be met with current service capacity.

Despite the interest of railway authorities of both countries in increasing international traffic, faster development cannot happen before improvement of Van Lake ferry service and alternative railway connection to Iran through Kars-Naxcivan.

Photo: Johannes Heger ©

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2 thoughts on “Can Trains Replace Trucks in Iran?

    1. The ferry and ferry port is under construction. Each of new 2 ferries is going to have a capacity of 50 wagons (current ferries can take 10 wagons), a length of 135mt, and will complete the journey in 3 hours instead of 5. First ferry is planned to run before 2015 summer..

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