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Indian Railways to modernise Iran's network

April 10, 2008 12:19 IST
Even as the gas pipeline project with Iran hangs in balance, India is likely to help the country in modernisation and expansion of its rail network.

Iran, facing UN sanctions, has sought India's expertise in upgrading its train operations, signalling system and electrical work besides training its personnel as part of its plans to modernise the railway system.

Responding to a request from the Iran government, Railway board chairman K C Jena along with two senior officers will go to Tehran on Friday to hold discussions with the Iranian railway officials.

"Indian Railways is likely to extend its expertise to Iran for modernising Iranian railway network," said a senior railway ministry official.

The Indian team would inspect the Iranian railway system and meet senior railway officials, including Hassan Ziari, deputy minister for roads and transportation, during their three-day visit from April 12. The high-level delegation headed by Jena is also slated to visit the railway system at Esfahan in Iran.

"Iran wants to expand its rail network with Indian Railways' help. RITES has already done a few feasibility studies for Iranian Railway," said the official. Though Indian Railways has signed MoU with many overseas railways there is no such agreement with Iranian Railway.

"An MoU with Iranian Railway may be signed at a later stage but at the moment there is no such proposal, said the official.  "Iran is also keen to seek Indian Railways' assistance in its port connectivity plan," the official said, adding it will accept the offer after examining the financial viability of the proposed projects in Iran.

Iran's rail route stretches to 6,000 km.  Besides Jena, other members of the team are RITES managing director VK Agarwal and general manager AKM Sharma.

The growth in economy and business prospects of the Indian Railways is fast attracting the attention of foreign railways for investments and new technologies. Over the past few years, Railways has signed MoUs with Italy, Germany, Russia, South Africa and most recently with China.

The Indian Railways has carried over 6,000 million passengers in 2007-08 and the target for 2008-09 is over 7,000 million which is among the highest in the world for rail travel. Railways also witnessed a record growth in freight business. It carried 794 million tonnes of freight in the fiscal 2007-08.

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