Transport in Iran

Major routes and railways of Iran. Tehran is the hub of Iran's transport and communication system.

Transport in Iran is inexpensive because of the government's subsidization of the price of gasoline. The downside is a huge draw on government coffers, economic inefficiency because of highly wasteful consumption patterns, contraband with neighboring countries and air pollution. In 2008, more than one million people worked in the transportation sector, accounting for 9% of GDP.[1]

Iran has a long paved road system linking most of its towns and all of its cities. In 2011 the country had 173,000 kilometres (107,000 mi) of roads, of which 73% were paved.[2] In 2008 there were nearly 100 passenger cars for every 1,000 inhabitants.[3]

Trains operated on 11,106 km (6,942 mi) of railroad track.[4] The country’s major port of entry is Bandar-Abbas on the Strait of Hormuz. After arriving in Iran, imported goods are distributed throughout the country by trucks and freight trains. The Tehran-Bandar-Abbas railroad, opened in 1995, connects Bandar-Abbas to the railroad system of Central Asia via Tehran and Mashhad. Other major ports include Bandar e-Anzali and Bandar e-Torkeman on the Caspian Sea and Khorramshahr and Bandar-e Emam Khomeyni on the Persian Gulf.

Dozens of cities have airports that serve passenger and cargo planes. Iran Air, the national airline, was founded in 1962 and operates domestic and international flights. All large cities have mass transit systems using buses, and several private companies provide bus service between cities. Tehran, Mashhad, Shiraz, Tabriz, Ahwaz and Esfahan are in the process of constructing underground mass transit rail lines.

Ministry of Road and Transportation

The Ministry of Roads and Transportation is in charge of studying and deciding pricing policy of the transportation; as well as issuing licenses for the establishment of transportation firms. In addition, the Ministry is in charge of implementing comprehensive and integrated transportation policies in Iran. As of 2016, plans for foreign direct investment in the transport sector include over 5,600km of highways, 745km of freeways, and close to 3,000km of main roads.[5] These projects and others are worth a total of $25 billion (not including airplanes purchases abroad worth another $50 billion).[5]


Railway system map (09-2006)

Electrified railway is 146 km from Tabriz to Jolfa and the tender for electrification of Tehran- Mashhad has been finished according to Railway electrification in Iran. Note: Broad-gauge track is employed at the borders with Azerbaijan Republic and Turkmenistan which have 1,520 mm (4 ft 11 2732 in) broad gauge rail systems; 41 km of the standard gauge, electrified track is in suburban service at Tehran (2007).

The majority of transportation in Iran is road-based. The government plans to transport 3.5% of the passenger volume and 8.5% of the freight volume by rail. Extensive electrification is planned. The railway network expands by about 500 km per year according to the Ministry of R&T.

Railway links with adjacent countries

In December, 2014 a rail line from Iran opened to Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan. The opening of the line marks the first direct rail link between Iran, Kazakhstan and China and upon completion of the Marmaray rail project direct rail transport between China and Europe (while avoiding Russia) will be possible.[6][7]

Couplings, brakes and electrification

Rapid transit

Tehran Metro

The Tehran Metro is a rapid transit system in Tehran carrying 3 million passengers a day an consisting of five lines that run a total of 170 kilometres (110 mi) with two further lines under construction.[9] The metro will have a final length of 430 kilometres (270 mi) once all nine lines are constructed by 2028. Metro services run from 5:30 to 23:00 throughout the city and the ticket price is 5000 IRR ($0.17 USD).

Tehran Bus Rapid Transit

The Tehran Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) is a rapid transit system serving Tehran which was officially inaugurated in 2008. The BRT has a network of over 150 kilometres which transport 1.8 million passengers on a daily basis.[10] The BRT has a total of nine lines with a further expansion planned to bring the total length to 300 kilometres.

Mashhad Urban Railway

The Mashhad Urban Railway is urban rail line in Mashhad, construction on line one began in 1999 and was opened on 24 April 2011. Line two is currently under construction. Mashhad Urban Railway operates its single line from 6:30 to 21:30 daily. It has a daily ridership of 130 000 passengers and has a total length of 24 kilometres (14.9 mi).

Isfahan Metro

The Isfahan Metro is a metro system serving Isfahan, the construction for line one commenced in 2001 and was finally opened to the public on 15 October 2015. Line one has a total length of 11 kilometres. The city is planning a second East to West line to serve the city.

Shiraz Metro

The Shiraz Metro is a rapid transit system in Shiraz, line one was officially inaugurated on 11 October 2014 after being in construction since 2011, the single line has a length of 10.5 kilometres (6.5 mi) and stops at six stations. Line 2 is currently under construction and has a length of 15 kilometres (9.3 mi). The metro currently has a daily ridership of 500 000 passengers with 27 trains in operation.

Tabriz Metro

The Tabriz Metro is a metro system serving the city of Tabriz, the first line was opened on 28 August 2015 with a 7 kilometre length and six stations. There is also a regional commuter line planned to the city of Sahand. Line one runs Northwest from El Goli Station to Ostad Shahriar Station.

Roadways and automobiles

Tehran-Karaj road link
  • Paved: 125,908 km (includes 1,429 km of expressways)
  • Unpaved: 47,019 km

Note: There were more than 11 million vehicles in Iran by 2010 mostly manufactured or assembled locally.[3] As of 2015, 34,000 km of roads provided essential corridors of transportation, while 45,000 km of major roads and 100,000 km of roads connecting villages and rural areas have seen no maintenance and upkeep practices (worth a total of $57 billion).[12]

Road accidents

Transportation in Iran is inexpensive because of the government's subsidization of gasoline

Iran ranks 23d worldwide in traffic deaths per 100,000 population per year, with a rate of 24.3, half the rate of the worst country, Eritrea. Iran ranks first worldwide in terms of having the largest number of road accidents with 38,000 deaths and injuries per year. Other sources place the total number of fatalities at 100,000 over the past 6 years or 20,000 per year on average (2008).[1][13]

Transport officials say 46.8 percent of car accidents take place in cities, 21.5 percent outside, 19.5 percent on rural routes, 4.2 percent on urban highways and 4.2 percent on suburban highways.[14]

The high death tolls in car accidents are blamed on high speed, unsafe vehicles, widespread disregard of traffic laws and inadequate emergency services.[15]

Motorcycles account for 50 percent of sound pollution in Tehran and 40-45 percent of accidents.[16]


850 km (on Karun River; additional service on Lake Urmia) (2006)[11]

Note: the Shatt al-Arab is usually navigable by maritime traffic for about 130 km; channel has been dredged to 3 m and is in use.


Ports and harbors

As at 2015, the Kharg oil terminal is handling about 90% of Iran's crude exports.

The capacity of container loading and unloading in the country’s ports is currently at 4.4 million which will increase to 7 million by the end of 2015. Port capacity will increase to 200 million tons in 2015 from 150 million tons in 2010.[17]

Merchant marine

The International Maritime Organization has 140 member states with Iran ranking among the top 20
  • By type: bulk carrier 8, cargo 51, chemical tanker 3, container 4, liquefied gas 1, passenger/cargo 3, petroleum tanker 2, refrigerated cargo 2, roll on/roll off 2
  • Foreign-owned: 2 (UAE 2)

Over the next two decades, Iran would need 500 new ships, including 120 oil tankers, 40 liquefied natural gas (LNG) carriers and over 300 commercial vessels.[23]

Airports and airlines

Iran handles about 50 million passengers annually (2016).[5] Iran’s airports are improving their international connections, and Arak Airport in Markazi province has recently begun to operate international flights, making a total of five such airports in the country, in addition to ten local airports.[24] In May 2007 international flights into the capital, Tehran, were moved to the Imam Khomeini International Airport (IKIA), just outside the city because of capacity constraints at the existing central Mehrabad Airport.

National airline:

Airports - with paved runways

Total: 140 (2013)[21]

over 3,047 m: 42
2,438 to 3,047 m: 29
1,524 to 2,437 m: 26
914 to 1,523 m: 36
under 914 m: 7 (2013)

Airports - with unpaved runways

Total: 179 (2013)[21]

over 3,047 m: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 2
914 to 1,523 m: 135
under 914 m: 32 (2013)


Total: 26 (2013)[21]

Transit statistics

Iran's non-oil foreign trade (2011).



Mode of transport

Port of entry


See also: Economy of Iran


In September 2009, Iran formally joined the Transport Corridor Europe – Caucasus – Asia (TRACECA) programme, also known as the "new Silk Road." TRACECA was founded in 1998 with the aim of promoting economic relations, trade and transport communications between Europe, the Caucasus and Asia. This programme consists of the EU and 14 member states (including Iran) from Eastern Europe and the Caucasus. Iran’s strategic location means that it is a key transport corridor between Europe and Central Asia.

In August 2010, Iran declared that it "did not sign on to TRACECA project" and said it has been fostering improved transport links through a series of bilateral agreements with neighboring states instead.[39] According to Iran's first Vice-President Mohammad-Reza Rahimi "If all the potential of the country's transit sector is tapped, it can bring in as much revenues as [the] oil [industry]". He also announced that Iran will join China and Europe by rail in the near future.[40]

See also


  1. 1 2 Archived June 3, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 Archived June 18, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.
  4. 1 2 "Islamic Republic Of Iran Railways :: راه آهن جمهوري اسلامي ايران". Retrieved 2012-02-09.
  5. 1 2 3 4 5 6
  7. Kazakhstan-Turkmenistan-Iran Railway to Open Today, by Onur Uysal,
  8. Archived June 22, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.
  11. 1 2 3 4 "CIA - The World Factbook". Retrieved 2012-02-09.
  13. Archived June 29, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.
  14. Iran Daily - Domestic Economy - 07/27/08 Archived June 3, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.
  16. "Motorcycles Account for 30% of Air Pollution in Tehran". Retrieved 2012-02-09.
  17. "No. 3855 | Domestic Economy | Page 4". Irandaily. Retrieved 2012-02-09.
  19. 1 2 "Iran - U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA)". Retrieved 2012-02-09.
  20. 1 2 3 4 US Energy Information Agency  This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  21. 1 2 3 4 5 6 "CIA Factbook". 09-12-2014. Check date values in: |date= (help)
  22. Archived June 21, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.
  23. Archived September 26, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.
  24. 1 2 "Iran Travel And Tourism Forecast", Economist Intelligence Unit, August 18, 2008
  25. Archived June 3, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.
  26. "وب سایتهای ایرنا - Irna". Retrieved 2012-02-09.
  27. 1 2 3 4
  28. 1 2 3
  29. 1 2 "PressTV - 'Iran cargo transit revenue to hit $12 bn'". Retrieved 2012-02-09.
  30. "'Iran's trade grows despite sanctions'". PressTV. 2011-05-01. Retrieved 2012-02-09.
  31. "No. 3853 | Domestic Economy | Page 4". Irandaily. Retrieved 2012-02-09.
  32. "Transit of goods through Iran soars". Retrieved 2012-02-09.
  33. "Iran to extend rail network to 15,000 kilometers by 2015". Tehran Times. Retrieved 2012-02-09.
  34. Archived June 3, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.
  35. "Rise in transit of commodities via Iran - Irna". Retrieved 2012-02-09.
  37. "وب سایتهای ایرنا - Irna". Retrieved 2012-02-09.
  38. Archived May 31, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.
  39. "No Operation". Retrieved 2012-02-09.
  40. "No Operation". Retrieved 2012-02-09.

External links

Key Organizations

Useful Links

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