Iran Railways

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This is the first of what I hope will be a few articles about the Railways of Iran. It focusses on the first line built between Tehran and Rey and operating from 1888 to around 1960-61.

I have been reading old copies of the Railway Magazine from the 1950s and 1960s. The old small format magazines somehow seem more attractive than the glossy larger format modern magazines, perhaps that is a sign of ageing!

In the January 1963 edition of the magazine there is a long article about the railways of Iran which is based on a visit in 1961 to Iran by M.H. Baker MA.

Until the 1930s, Iran was relatively isolated, but from around 1865 various European Countries had sought concessions to construct railways but the Imperial government continued to value isolation above integration.
This is the next installment covering the Railways of Iran. ......

The Trans-Iranian Railway - When completed, the Trans-Iranian Railway was an immense achievement. It ran for 850 miles and linked the South and North of the country. For the first time the northern agricultural lands and the Caspian Sea ports would be linked to ports and oilfields in the south. It linked the capital Tehran with the Persian Gulf and Caspian Sea. The railway connected Bandar Shah (now: Bandar Torkaman) in the north and Bandar Shahpur (now: Bandar-e Emam Khomeyni) in the south via Ahvaz, Ghom and Tehran.
After the War, Iran's railways experienced a period of relative stagnation. Significant developments did not occur until the 1950s.

The Cambridge History of Iran - Volume 1, which was published in 1968 says that after shortages disappeared a pattern became established, and by 1968, railways provided the basic freight-transport service from the Persian Gulf ports to Tehran and the eastern Caspian Sea region. The authors said, "Branch lines have been extended to Tabriz and Mashhad (Meshed), mitigating to a high degree the relative decline of these cities since 1925. A 120 mile westward extension of the railway line from Tabriz, now being built under the sponsorship of the Central Treaty Organization, will connect the Iranian and Turkish railways. (It was completed between Tehran and Tabriz by 1960.) An eastward extension from Qum, south of Tehran, is now complete as far as Yazd (but not by 1961 when Baker visited) and will ultimately connect with the Pakistan railway system in Baluchistan. During World War I a line of this system (then part of India) was extended as far as Zahidin in Iran, a short distance from the border. Service to Zahidin is provided by Pakistan National Railways, but there is no regular schedule." The line when built was 5ft. 6in. gauge.
The rule of the Shah in the 1970s became increasingly authoritarian. The royal family appropriated a large amount of the country's income for themselves and gradually the clerics became less and less content with the ruling classes. The result, as we know, was major political change at the end of the decade.

My recollections of the 1960s are vague. As a child I was almost entirely focussed on my immediate environment. The 1970s were a different matter. Events in the Middle East and in Iran began to intrude on my childhood. New of conflicts in Palestine and in the wider region became part of my consciousness.

Many of us will be aware that Shah left Iran for exile in January 1979, as the last Persian monarch, leaving his duties to a regency council and Shapour Bakhtiar who was an opposition-based prime minister. Ayatollah Khomeini was invited back to Iran by the government, and returned to Tehran to be greeted by several million Iranians.
The railways continued to serve the country and saw some significant developments during the decade.

I hope you find this next article interesting. ...
While undertaking the research for these articles on the railways in Iran. I was delighted to find some material in a number of European language posted on a thread about the Railways of Iran on the SJK Postvagen forum. This next post is numbered out of sequence as I have already begun work of the period from the 1980s onwards, but the material is really interesting (in my view). I have had to use Google Translate to get the first draft of the different papers referred to in the link article and then I have had to clarify or paraphrase a number of things to make the text work in English. .... is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to - An online railroad bookstore featuring a curated selection of new and used railroad books. Railroad pictorials, railroad history, steam locomotives, passenger trains, modern railroading. Hundreds of titles available, most at discount prices! We also have a video and children's book section. - An online model railroad bookstore featuring a curated selection of new and used books. Layout design, track plans, scenery and structure building, wiring, DCC, Tinplate, Toy Trains, Price Guides and more.