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Tehran-Mashhad Railway Electrification (TMRE)

Railway network in Iran
System Electric railway
Status not started
Locale Iran
Termini Tehran
Stations 49, train length 700m, Axle Load 22.5 ton
Services 80% passenger, 20% freight
Daily ridership 30,000 pass.
Opened 1957
Owner RAI
Operator(s) RAJA
Rolling stock Prima
Line length 926 double track, UIC 60, CWR 98%
Track length 2,200 km (1,367 mi)
No. of tracks 2 (4 track, 114 km tehran garmsar)
Track gauge 1,435 mm (4 ft 8+12 in)1435
25 kV AC 50 Hz
Operating speed 200km/h pass. trains, 250km/h Tilting EMU
Highest elevation 900-1500
Three rail tracks 350.jpg
Rail transport
Rolling stock
History by country
By country


Railway electrification in Iran describes the past and present electrification systems used to supply traction current to rail transport in Iran with a chronological record of development, a list of lines using each system, and a history and a technical description of each system.

The project is sometimes abbreviated to RAIELEC,[1] in which RAI is the abbreviation of Islamic Republic of Iran Railways (Persian: برقی کردن راه آهن در ایران, abbr: بكرا).



An electric container freight train on the West Coast Main Line, United Kingdom.

Railway electrification means to equip railway infrastructure with overhead lines or a third rail carrying electric current to power the locomotive or electric multiple unit.


After initial negotiations in 1969, railway electrification in Iran started in 1975, with a contract with Russia to electrify the Tabriz [2]to Jolfa route in East Azarbaijan Province near the border with the former Soviet Union. The work would include a Bogie exchange facility. Tabriz Jolfa was originally established in 1916 (before the main network in 1938) with the wide gauge 1524 mm and was changed to standard gauge after connection of Tabriz to the national network.


Track geometry

Tabriz-Jolfa is a single line rail track 146 km long with nine stations in between. The maximum grade is 2.8% and the minimum curve radius is 400 m.

Electrification specification

The electric line voltage is 25kV, 50Hz, with substations in Tabriz, Marand and Jolfa fed by 132kV from the national grid. The end substations have three 15MW transformer and the Marand substation has four transformers.

Rank Year Orig. Dest. Dis. Voltage, KV power, MW SS Dis., Km mast D., m stagger len., m pant. w., m mast C., m Height., m Block l., m Wire mm^2 Tens., Kn Reg. brk. Speed., Km/h
1  Iran 1976 kampsax standard 25 10-15 70 0.4 1.9 3.0 5-6 1500 107 10-12 160
1  Iran 1985 Tabriz Jolfa 146 25 15 70 50 3 5.2 1200 100 1500 0 100
2  Iran 1997 Tehran Karaj 35 2^25 63 60 55 3.2 5.2 1200 120 1500 1 140
3  Iran 2010 Tabriz Azarshahr 46 25 15 55 3.2 5.2 1200 100 1500 140
4  Iran 2012 Tehran Mashhad 926 2^25 50 90 68 3.5 6.2 1300 120 2000 1 250

Track specification

Track specifications in current and planned electrified lines in Iran are as follows:

Rank Year Orig. Dest. Dis. Tunnel Stations D.T.% T.C. Dis. clear. Height clear. Width Train Length Train Load Axle load Leaner Load rail weight Con. Weld Min. Curve Max. Grade Max. Speed Station Speed Train control
1 1891 tabriz jolfa 146 0.1 7 0 4.7 3 400 2000 20 6 46-60 400 28 100 60
2 1956 Tehran mashhad 926 0 49 100 4.75 5.7 3.5 750 3500 22.5 7 60 95% 700 15 250 80 ETCS 2
3 1928 Ahvaz Tehran 62 816 45 20 4.5 4.7 3.1 420 2000 20 6.5 46-60 30 250 15 160 60

Operational information

country Year Orig. Dest. Dis. D.Track % train cap. Train Length Train weight passenger freight Pass. A.S. frt. A.S. T.P. demand T.F. demand Max. Speed max P.C. Max F.C.
Iran 1957 Tehran Mashhad 926 100 60^2 750 3500 13 2 80 30 50 10 160 50 10
Iran 1993 Bafgh Bandarabbas 630 75 30^2 1500 7000 2 10 90 35 4 60 160 5 100

Locomotive specification

Rc4 electric loco in Tabriz

From World's Main locomotives and railfaneurope [3] and traction dep. of RAI. [4]

co.= Railway company, Des.=designation, Man.= manufacturer, No.= Number, Type= diesel or electric and traction motor type, Y.= Year introduced, W.= weight, A.L.= Axle Load P.= Power, T.E.= Tractive effort D.B.= Dynamic brake power S.= Speed

Rank Des. Man. No. Type Y. W. A.L. P. T.E. D.B. S. Ad. Load L. W. H.
1 AD43C ALSTOM 100 DE, AC 2002 123 20.5 3200 480 3000 150 35 2500
2 GT26CW EMD 150 DE, DC 1971 120 20 2400 240 1500 120 20 2000
3 IR22 Siemens 150 DE, AC 2010 120 21 2400 180 1000 160 20 1500
4 RC4 ASEA 8 E, DC 1985 80 20 3600 230 2400 100 30 2000
5 U30C GE 32 DE, DC 1992 120 20 2400 240 2400 107 26 1600 17.7 3.02 4.06
6 C30-7 GE 29 DE, DC 1985 132 22 2400 340 2400 113 26 2800 18 3.15 4.2
7 DF8 CSR 1 DE, DC 2008 138 23 3680 369 3700 100 26 3000 22.2 2.95 4.75

Electric locomotive that are used on this line are eight RC4 units from ASEA Sweden. These have 4 axles and DC traction motors with 3.6MW power and 240 KN tractive effort, and a maximum speed of 100 km/h.

Diesel locomotive fleet

The main fleet of RAI Diesel locomotives among Iranian Locomotives have Diesel-electric transmission and are Electro-Motive Diesel, General Electric and Alstom diesel type EMD GT26CW-2, GE U30C, GE C30-7,Prima (locomotive) AD43C and DF8 from Qishuyan( China South Locomotive and Rolling Stock Industry (Group) Corporation (CSR), Rail transport in the People's Republic of China) . [ ]

Recent projects

Pilot projects

Recently another contract was signed with the Russian railway RZD in February 2009 to connect the Tabriz electric line to Azarshahr to the south, and continuing to Bonab and Maragheh and possibly to Urmia through the Shahid Kalantary bridge. that has the rail track inside, like Oresund Bridge. The existing electric line is going to be connected to Oroumieh and Maragheh and also Shabestar and Salmas, relying on existing facilities and locomotives. On the northern route it is planned to connect Soofian to Shabestar and Salmas.

Main project

A tender [5] for electrification of the Tehran-Mashhad double track line, would supply 70 electric locomotives with cab signalling that will increase the speed to 200 km/h for passenger car trains and 250 km/h for tilting trains. Electric Multiple Train (EMU) will reduce the existing journey time from 12 hours down to 6 hours. The line is equipped with Optical fiber communication and CTC center for railway signal. This project as well as electrification and locomotives, also includes SCADA, 5 years maintenance, and back up power generation. The contract includes dual mode vehicles for maintenance.

Effects on stations

Building of Central Tehran railway station by architect Vladislav Gorodetsky

The layout of stations such as Tehran and Mashhad train stations will be affected by electrification. The railway platform in other stations could be longer in the future.

New locomotive specification

The passenger locomotives (with (Bo-Bo) according to UIC classification of locomotive axle arrangements) continuous tractive effort is more than 240 kn and for freight (Co-Co) is more than 480 kn and the all weather adhesion is at least 33%. The passenger locomotives are equipped with head end power (HEP).

The desired locomotives prototype would be available 6 months sooner than end date of inauguration to pass the Homologation phase. The mockup and pilot experiment for EMU could be used to expedite the accepting process.

locomotive approval test

The locomotive test and approval, homologation would be done according to RAI, UIC, AAR(TTCI) and ... like SNCF Class BB 75000.

Tendering process

The initial study was done by RAI vice president for planning and international affairs in 2003 specially by calculating the benefit of electrification in locomotive saving in long passenger trains that was argued by the railway research center MATRAI. After convincing the top managers and management and planning organization,(MPO) it was approved by the government to make a Feasibility study for electrification and this was accepted by the parliament in 2007.

The study was carried out by a joint of Metra and Italferr according to United Nations Industrial Development Organization(UNIDO) andFIDIC recommendations and Tehran Mashhad was assigned as the first priority for being electrified. After this phase the Tendering Pre-qualification(PQ) was prepared by new Joint venture of Metra and Systra and Request for proposal (RFP) was released with conceptual design and by result obligations.

The realisation need to be observed according to international project management guides like PMBOK(Project Management Body of Knowledge), ISO 10006, Opm3 or PRINCE2. One of the main items emphasised was RAMS (reliability, availability, maintanability and safety) with quantitative measures and goals specially for MTBF (mean time between failures) and MDBF (mean distance between failures).

The review and modification of the design according to Value Engineering and Reliability engineering technique will be envisaged in the detailed design phase.

Future projects


To promote the Electrification with more effectiveness, better performance and more productivity according the internal and external factors, a study have been done and a SWOT analysis table was created.

Planned projects

Railjet-Taurus in Saalfelden 2007

It is planned to expand electrification to the north west up to Tabriz (with 200 km/h speed for passenger trains and 250 for tilting EMU or such trains like Railjet) that is part of Silk Road and the transit route from Almaty to Istanbul and islamabad to Istanbul as one of main task and objectives of ECO Economic Cooperation Organization and one of the emphasized rout of ESCAP United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific.

The first phase of this project will be in tehran to Zanjan (city) to make it more economic and also to prepare the new under construction short cut from Tabriz to Mianeh that will decrease the distance from Tehran to Tabriz about 100 km and for this stepwise plan the dual mode or Electro-diesel locomotive could help to justify the project.

Electrification projects

Route Length traffic 2011 fuel saving Date Max. speed
origin-destination km million million liter year km/h
Tehran-Mashhad 926 20 pass. +5 frt. 250 2012 250
Tehran-bandarabbas 1350 10 pass. + 60 frt. 4000 2014 160
Tehran-Tabriz 600 20 pass. + 5 frt. 100 2014 250
Chadormaloo-Ardakan 220 1pass. + 10frt. 100 2011 120

High speed projects

High speed history in Iran

THSR train started from 2006.

High speed railway in Iran was started by a visit to view Japan's shinkansen high speed trains by the road and transportation minister (Mr. Shahrestani)in 1974, who was appointed as Tehran mayor List of mayors of Tehran. He asked the Japanese to prepare a proposal for construction of a new and dedicated HSR from Tehran to Mashhad.(Railway trend in Iran) Subsequently, a delegation was sent from JARTS to do this and finally they proposed three options in 1976 as follows:

1- Double tracking and electrification of existing line to 160 km/h

Track at that time was single line without electric signaling system, with many curves at a 300-meter radius. (Estimated cost to upgrade: about $1 billion.)

2- A dedicated high speed line at 210 km/h

The maximum speed in Japan at that time was 210 km/h and there was no other railway with high speed except Japan. (Estimated cost to upgrade: about $4 billion.)

3- A dedicated high speed line at 260 km/h

This option was based on the long realisation time of such a huge project, with an estimate of about 10 years. (Estimated cost to upgrade: about $7 billion.)

Other high speed projects

There are other lines that have been nominated, studied and approved for high speed railway, including Tehran-Isfahan and Tehran-Qom. The first one has been started and is under construction.

Electrification step to high speed

High-speed lines in Europe.      320–350 km/h      300 km/h      250–280 km/h      200–230 km/h

This project will enable the economically introduction of High-speed rail HSR gradually perhaps from Garmsar to Semnan, and the final goal is to have less than 3 hours for wide body high speed trains in a dedicated high speed line with road rail parallel layout.

There are two high-speed rail line projects in Iran, between Tehran and Isfahan, as well as Tehran to Mashhad. The Tehran-Isfahan HSR speed has been increased to 350 km/h and the section between Tehran and Qom is going to have a new dedicated alignment for 350 km/h connecting Tehran to Imam Khomeini International Airport, possibly connected by monorail, and to a new multi-mode terminal in Qom with a road rail parallel layout with freeway connecting to Isfahan HSR.

Maglev option for high speed

There are some possibilities to use the maglev (transport) with linear motor for high speed needs starting according to reliability and life cycle cost (LCC) with a pilot experiment in short distance like Tehran-Karaj.

Road Rail Parallel Layout

Road Rail Parallel Layout is an approach that uses the land around the road to locate the railway lines, like the line from Paris to Lyon with 15% along highway, and Koln to Frankfurt with 70%.[6]

Construction of the route through the Kösching forest, north of Ingolstadt, Germany, had a large environmental impact but with Road Rail Parallel Layout this would be less than using multiple routes.

Tunneling compatibility

By electrification it would be possible to choose the routes with longer tunnels like the Gotthard Base Tunnel tunnel in Switzerland.[7]

Existing network connection

By electrification it would be possible to connect more cities to high speed network, like Arak, Yazd, Ahwaz, Shiraz, and Kerman and in the northwest corridor to Tabriz, and Ardabil.

High speed projects

Route Length traffic forecast Date Max. speed fuel saving life saving time saving
origin-destination km million year km/h million liter person million hours
Tehran-Qom-Esfehan 413 50 pass 2012 350 600 1500 200

Speed options for 1000 km and 20 million passengers

Interior of a Standard car, 95 seats

prices in million Euro

speed km/h trip time civil works equipment stations land+study rolling stock total
250 5 1000 1600 1000 300 2000 5900
300 4 1000 1600 1000 300 1600
350 3.5 1000 1700 1000 300 1500
400 3 1000 1800 1000 300 1700

The main factors that are different in above options could be referred to as the equipment for track and electrification that will be increased by speed and also the rolling stock that for higher speed will have a small higher price about 10% but the productivity that increases considerably because of lower time of trip that enables more density of seats with seat pitch about 50%.

Freight projects

A double-stack well car owned by the TTX Company.

On freight corridor, the electrification of Bafgh bandarabbas in Persian Gulf is planed as BOT Build-Operate-Transfer base with future continuation to Tehran and Intermodal freight transport at both ends plus the Classification yard.

The rate of return on investment would be very acceptable specially for international investment [8] because of enough demand between bandarabbas to Tehran with only 10% share of railway Freight train because of capacity limitation.

Bandarabbas is close to Gheshm Island that has 100 km length and could be connected by bridge or tunnel (like Channel Tunnel) or Marmaray in Turkey. One of the big advantages of this line is the big loading gauge and axle load that increases the productivity of the rail transport specially for intermodal freight transport by Well Car (double stack containers) from port shahid rajaee [9].

This line also can help to transit oil as a good start to the planed transit pipeline transport.

Iron ore is one of the main commodities on this line, especially from Golgohar mine near Sirjan, Choghart and Chadormaloo near Bafgh to Isfahan for two steel plants and steel mills named Zobahan (Esfahan Steel Company) and Mobarakeh.

The possible use of roadrailers or rolling highway are some other options.

As the rail connection with Zahedan will be inaugurated in near future, it will make it possible to have a direct transit line from Central Asia to Pakistan and India possibly with variable gauge bogies and could be completed with a link to Chabahar port in the south east of the country.

The business plan to justify the electrification and supplying locomotives is going to be prepared.

Cost effective projects

For low density lines by doing cost-benefit analysis it is considered to use Dc elec. loco and the power from city substations for more Cost effectiveness of projects. For Lorestan province that there is more than 60 km tunnel, the DC diesel locomotive will be converted to electric.

For northern line (that has the grade of 3%) to Mazandaran and Golestan provinces one of the solutions could be third rail for using the existing diesel locomotives and dual-mode transit. The local production capability in electric energy sector makes the cost effectiveness better. for example the contact wire is produced a locally and also different insulators and there is god companies to wind transformers. With electrification, the need for shunting will be reduced and the Switcher locomotive as well. To improve the economic result of electrification it is foreseen to convert the diesel locomotives to electric one both in DC like GE E60 [10] and AC like AD43C. Value chain is a theory that could be used for this.

Electrification investment

Countries by 2008 GDP (nominal) per capita (IMF, October 2008 estimate)
GDP real growth rate 2008

Transport demand is increased more than GDP in freight and less than it in passenger sector, and it is essential to provide appropriate means for transport by investing in infrastructures.

According to the limitation in funds for electrification it is very important to increase investment for the extensions with good ROR rate of return with different solutions rather than national budget as well as BOT [[11]] as a Public-private partnership(PPP) type investment or a Concession (contract),Private finance initiative, Franchising, By back, Barter, Joint venture, FDI Foreign direct investment [[12]] &...

Other sources of fund for Expansion of electric network is by believer people help for constructing the infrastructures for easy, safe and convenient transportation that is emphasized by Islam by Vaghf as a type of charity

Another solution is go for Privatization like Privatisation of British Rail or Japan. For more information it is possible to see the : Organization For Investment, Economic and Technical Assistance of Iran [13]

World electrification

Railway electrification in Europe by country. Data source: UIC

In 2006 25% (240,000 km) of the world rail network was electrified and 50% of all rail transport was carried by electric traction (both by locomotives and multiple units) and about 36% of electric system is 25 KV AC.

Electrification advantages

Electrification of railway like every other phenomenon has some positive and negative results. some of advantages of electrification are as follows: less weight and space for same power (thus less locomotive need in big passenger trains), less maintenance (more availability and less cost in locomotive purchasing), less power losing in elevation and warm weather. Electrification allows more powerful locomotives to be used than on non-electrified tracks. The rule of thumb is that the power range of diesel locomotives begin at the power of the strongest steam engines, while the power range of electric locomotives begin at the high end of diesel locomotives. The strongest locomotives of the world are all electric. Power means higher top speed and higher tractive effort.

Electrification disadvantages

Snabel car with an electrical transformer near Koblenz

There are many argument about the electrification and may people believe it is not feasible to electrify the railway in many cases. Some of these experts say with the need to expand network it is better to invest for expansion programs. But it is important to say that there is not a general rule for accepting or rejecting this phase and the best approach is to evaluate all of the consequences of electrification either positive or negative. One of the restrictions of electrification is the clearance for large size commodities like double stack containers and big transformers.

External cost

The External Cost of railway is lower than other modes of transport but the electrification brings down it even more, if it is Sustainable.

This is specially due to railway safety relative to Road traffic safety, considering the Value of life []. Also energy from well to wheel, and the necessity to reduce pollutions and greenhouse gas in earth according to the Kyoto Protocol.

To have better interaction with society, using the help of Think tank organizatins (NGO) is vital.

Electrification cost

The Electrification cost depends on the speed or the class of the track like Speed limits in the United States (rail). An initial and good estimate is done by world bank in 1984 with the name Railways and Energy [14]

According to the book of Prices and Costs in the railway sector by Professor Baumgartner from Switzerland [15] the rough estimation of traction substation cost is 0.2 million euro per megavolt amper and 0.2 million euro per km of line with 300 km/h and 0.15 for 100 km/h. It is possible to find some prices and cost data in following site.[16]

One of the main factors in electrification cost is the new grids cost for connecting to national grid. in long distance cases it could be feasible to use other sources of energy like solar energy, wind power, and etc.

Electrification maintenance

Keeping the minimum requirements of the design specification is one of the main goal of maintenance, and to achieve this we have to prepare a good and appropriate maintenance strategy. [17] [18]

Electrification effect on safety

Detail of derailed EC 107 "Praha" in Prague (2007)

The electrification generally could have a reverse effect on safety but the consequences of it may increase safety a lot specially by increasing reliability as the first element of RAMS (reliability, availability, maintainability & safety), for example we can refer to the accident in neishabur as in Nishapur train disaster in List of rail accidents (2000–present) and derailment (Classification of railway accidents) in tight curves and high cant could be reduced by electrification.

Railway Electrification Statistics

See also


Further reading

  • Railway Electrification by A. Ghorbanalibeik, , Parak Publications, March 2007, 32 pp. ISBN 978-964-5703-96-5 (Persian)

PDF free download possible: [19]

also in raielec group in yahoo:[20]

External links


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