Iran was recently added to the list of countries to which a direct container train is organized from China.
On 31th of January, Interrail, the Swiss based company, launched first container train from China towards Tehran. Iran has become the fourth country in region after Azerbaijan, Georgia and Ukrain where a container train to/from China is tested.
The train carrying 40’ containers with various cargo departed from Yiwu, followed the route China-Kazakhstan-Turkmenistan and entered Iran using Sarakhs border station on 12th of February. Train arrived its final destination, Tehran, on 14th of February. The 10300-km-long route took 14 days, 10-15 days shorter than sea.
The train is expected to be a fortnight service, if backloads can be organized, next time using the new Kazakhstan-Turkmenistan-Iran railway connection via Incheborum, which is expected to shorten the transit time. Although this new rail connection is ready to use, customs operations need to be improved, as Interrail officers stated.
Although Turkey is interested in a train service between China and region, all expectations and investments are focused on a train via Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway. DHL recently run a trial train from China to Poti Port (Georgia) carrying loads to Turkey. FELB also planned a train from China to Poti targeting also Turkish clients last year, but postponed the project.
While the China-Turkey train projects via Caspian Sea wait for the completion of Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway, the existing connection via Iran has never been considered seriously. The sanctions against Iran and the weak ferry service at Van Lake were probably the main reasons for that.
On the other hand, Iifting of sanctions, new ferries on Van Lake, the new railway connection between Kazakhstan and Iran via Incheborum and expectations about boom in Iran’s international trade may change the parameters deeply.
Cover Photo: Interrail AG ©