Speaking at MEED’s Middle East Rail conference in Dubai on 31 October, Mohammad Montazeri, deputy managing director of the Tehran Urban & Suburban Railway Company, said efforts to bring in private finance have failed and the government will have to fund the project itself.

Despite this, he says the government is committed to adding 12 new lines to the existing two by 2030. Four of the lines are already under construction but have been dogged by delays because of a lack of funding. Mostazafan & Janbazan Foundation (MJF), the largest charitable trust, or bonyad, in the country, and Khatam-ol-Anbia (Ghorb), the engineering wing of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corp, were appointed to build lines 6 and 7 in July 2006. At the time, they agreed to provide financing for the project, but they have been unable to do so as Western banks have pulled out of the country. The Revolutionary Guards is among the organisations targeted in the latest round of US sanctions against Iran. The government will now provide funding for these lines and all others. The first to open will be lines 3 and 4. Line 3 is intended to open in three phases between 2011 and 2012, while it is hoped that a 2.4 kilometre stretch of line 4 will open in 2008, encompassing three stations. The full 20-kilometre, 20-station track will open in March 2012. The Iranian capital’s need for new commuter infrastructure is critical. The number of journeys taken on the city’s metro reached 327 million in the year to October 2007, compared with just 3.5 million for the whole of 1999 (MEED 21:7:06).