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Iran's road and transportation minister Hamid Behbahani says his ministry intends to attract $US25 billion of investment in the rail sector. In terms of the country's Vision-2025m all provinces should be connected to the rail network. The agenda envisages constructing 16,000 km of new railway in the next 15 years. Prior to the Islamic Revolution, Iran had about 4,500km of railway. In the past 30 years, about 5,000km of new lines have been built. North-South Railway The Bandar Abbas-Tehran-Qazvin section is complete. Qazvin-Rasht is about 40% finished. Within the next 12 months, it is expected that Iran will be connected to Azerbaijan's Astara. Some 10km of the Rasht-Astara line has been completed. Only about 8km of new construction is still needed. This railway will serve as a bridge connecting the Persian Gulf to Europe and in time it is likely that Azerbaijan will become an active transit hub. Tehran-Isfahan About a year is needed for preliminary studies on the Tehran-Isfahan electric train project which started recently. Concurrent with this, the issues of financing, configuration of participants in the undertaking and corresponding applications of domestic and foreign investors will be examined. Railway to Afghanistan Member of the Iranian parliament's national security and foreign policy commission Mohammad Ali Rezaei told the Fars News Agency of plans for a transit railroad linking Torbat Heidariyeh in north-eastern Iran to Herat in western Afghanistan to facilitate goods transport. It will be extended to Iran's southernmost port city of Chabahar on the Persian Gulf. Iran-China Railroad Earlier reports said that Beijing plans to build a railway linking China to the Mediterranean through Central Asia, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran. Fars News Agency was told that Iran and China are in final talks over a :multi-billion-dollar railroad project linking Iran's western provinces. According to minister Behbahani, a $1.5-2 billion contract for the completion of a Tehran-Arak-Malayer-Hamedan-Kermanshah-Khosravi line in about two-and-a-half years is under negotiation with the Chinese. It is planned to link Iran's western rail system via Iraq to Syria and the Mediterranean port city of Lazeqiah.

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