France’s Vinci is currently holding discussions with Iran’s senior government officials for a contract to build high-speed rail stations in the country, according to a report by London-based Reuters.

The stations under discussion are likely to be built for the proposed high-speed Tehran-Isfahan route, whose funding is also currently being discussed with Chinese and European governments.

This follows the award to Vinci Airports of a contract to expand and operate two international airports in Iran.

Expansion into foreign markets such as Iran, according to Vinci’s chief executive Xavier Huillard, is now a key strategy for the firm in order “to counter a slump in [the] French construction [sector]”.

Huillard said his company is now expanding into faster growing and more profitable concessions such as airports abroad and in motorways and in energy engineering.

Iran has a mainline rail network covering more than 10,000 kilometres, merely 181km of which is electrified. The state earlier signed a $1.2bn financing deal with the Russian government to upgrade an ageing rail line that links north-central Iran with its north-eastern border with Turkmenistan.

The Islamic Republic of Iran Railways also signed a memorandum of understanding with Germany’s Siemens for the electrification of the 900 kilometre Tehran-Mashhad rail route.