China to provide Iran with high speed trains
By Dalga Khatinoglu
Two Chinese companies have been selected to build a number of railway projects in Iran.
The chairman of the city council of Iran's holy city of Qom, Seyed Mohammad Atashzar, announced March 17 that China's Norinco Company has been selected to build monorail and subway projects.
At the same time an announcement was made that CITIC will also build a tram project, Iran's Donya-e-Eqtesad newspaper reported on March 18.
China's CITIC Company signed a memorandum of understanding with the municipality of Tabriz, the provincial capital of Iran's East Azerbaijan province.
Norinco has announced its readiness to sign a $834million (€600 million) deal to implementing a subway and tramway project. Earlier, other Chinese companies had voiced their interest in launching high speed railways between Qom-Tehran and Qom-Isfahan.
According to Atashzar, the Chinese company is highly capable to meet the requirements of the project. It has so far built about one thousand subway cars for Tehran's subway system. Moreover, it has established the Line No. 3 of the Tehran subway.
In November 2013, Iranian parliament speaker Ali Larijani invited China to participate in Iran's high speed trains projects. After riding on Shanghai Maglev Train, Larijani urged Chinese companies to establish magnetic levitation (maglev) systems in Iran.
But, the untold story is that China has imported the high speed train technology from abroad, mostly from Japan and Germany. The Shanghai Maglev Train also has been established by a consortium of Germany's Siemens and ThyssenKrupp.
After the Shanghai Maglev train was launched in 2003, China decided to extend the train's route using reverse engineering, but it failed so far.
Siemens which launched the first tramway in China in 1899, has inked a $1 billion contract to build 100 new high-speed trains for China in 2009 as well.
In June 2012, Canada's Bombardier also signed a 10-year deal with China, providing the country with the technology to build tramway systems.
Chinese company has been taking part in projects partly, for instance, during the constructions of Shanghai Maglev Train, Chinese contractors constructed the concrete structure.
On the other hand, the huge high speed train projects which link about 100 Chinese cities, have not passed without incident.
In 2011, two high-speed trains collided on a viaduct in eastern China, killing 40 people.
The mains cause of the mentioned disaster in 2011 was announced being a problem in the signaling equipment, which had been manufactured by Chinese companies.
Last November Iran announced that about $30 billion of its assets have been blocked by Chinese banks.
Iran tries to attract Chinese companies to finance Iranian projects as an approach to return the blocked assets.
Chinese companies are able to build wagons and railroads. But, there is an element of doubt as to whether they are capable to carry out secured high-tech railway projects successfully or not.
Dalga Khatinoglu is Trend Iran News Service head