TEHRAN - The Islamic Republic of Iran Railways, known also as RAI, and the Italian state-run railway company, Ferrovie dello Stato (FS), on Tuesday signed a memorandum of understanding worth €1.2 billion on construction of a high-speed railway between the Iranian central cities of Arak and Qom.
During a joint seminar held at the headquarters of RAI in Tehran, some knowledge transfer MOUs were also signed between the two sides.
An MOU was inked between the two state-run bodies and Iran University of Science & Technology, while some other MOUs were inked between the named Iranian academic body and an Italian university.
These MOUs were signed by the CEO of FS, Renato Mazzoncini, and the Head of RAI, Saeed Mohammadzadeh. The signing ceremony was attended by the Chancellor of Iran University of Science & Technology, Mohammad-Ali Barkhordari, the Italian Ambassador to Tehran, Mauro Conciatori, and some other Iranian and Italian officials and entrepreneurs.
On the sidelines of the signing ceremony, Mohammadzadeh expressed hope that all the inked agreements will pave the way for development of the Iranian rail sector and transfer of knowledge to the Islamic Republic.
As Mohammadzadeh said, designing and building of the Qom-Arak high-speed railway will kick off in the next Iranian calendar year (starts on March 21, 2018). The project, financed by Italy, will become operational jointly by Iranian contractors and FS.
Improvement of railway services is one of the top priorities defined in the Sixth Five-Year National Development Plan (2016-2021) and the transport ministry seeks to develop this sector to reach the target, Mohammadzadeh, who is also the deputy transport minister, said.
“Based on the sixth development plan, one percent of Iran’s crude oil income should be allocated to the expansion of railways,” he underlined.
During the past four years, $1 billion to $1.5 billion of direct investments have been attracted by the railway sector per year and $7.5 billion have been allocated by the government to guarantee investments in this sector, he added.
As Mohammadzadeh told the Tehran Times, RAI is also holding talks with German and Spanish companies on some other railway development projects.
‘No obstacles for financing’
Mazzoncini, for his part, expressed satisfaction with the MOUs, saying that the two countries are to enter a new chapter in their relations after the lifting of sanctions and the penned MOUs will go through operational phases within the next six months. He hoped that regarding the current conditions, there will be no obstacles considering the required financial issues and credit lines for the project.
The relation between Iran and Italy is, as you know, very important and also the cooperation between the universities is also important, he said.
“One of the agreements we signed today is for training engineers and technicians in Iran to create competence in Iran,” he added.
‘Iran-Italy economic ties on positive track’
In an interview with the Tehran times, the Italian ambassador to Tehran predicted a bright future for mutual economic ties between Tehran and Rome.
“This is a very positive trend, above all, thanks to the small and medium-sized enterprises of the two countries and it is time to pave the way for something more substantial and strategic and this one is an important step,” Mauro Conciatori said.
“For the moment, great boost is on joint venture [between Iran and Italy] in small and medium-sized enterprises and after that we must go for infrastructure and productive activities in oil, gas, and power generation,” he further elaborated. “It is normal that this will take a little bit time but I think that we are on a very positive track.”