The first Silk Road cargo train to travel directly between China and Iran has arrived in Tehran after a 10,400 km journey, which took 14 days.
The locomotive, carrying 32 containers of commercial products from China’s eastern province of Zhejiang, forms part of China’s One Belt One Road strategy of enhancing maritime and rail transport infrastructure between China and Europe via Asia.
Fars news agency reported that the train travelled through the Central Asian countries of Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan after starting off from the Chinese city Yiwu.
Mohsen Pourseyyed Aqai, head of the Islamic Republic of Iran Railways, said: “This is an important step for the revival of the Silk Road and the train has travelled 700 km per day, saving 30 days compared to normal time that takes to go this distance.”
The train is currently operating on a monthly service but its frequency can increase if necessary he added.
According to Pourseyyed Aqai, who is also Iran’s deputy minister of road and transportation, the daily 700 km which the train completed on average was “even more rapid than transit trucks that travel the same route.”
He claimed that “the time spent by this train” to reach Tehran “has been 30 days shorter compared with the maritime route, which starts from China’s Shanghai port and ends in Iran’s Bandar Abbas”.
However, the maritime journey between Shanghai and Bandar Abbas takes around 20 days according to the travel schedules of several major shipping lines.
The Iranian official also stated: “After inauguration of the freight railroad from China to Europe, more goods will be transited through Iran to European countries and this will increase the Islamic Republic’s transit revenue.”