The first direct container train between China and Iran arrived in Tehran on 14 February, two weeks after leaving Yiwu in the coastal province of Zhejiang, Eastern China.
With a load made up of 40’ containers carrying assorted cargo, the train travelled via the Alashankou/Dostyk border, crossing through Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and across the Iranian border at Sarakhs to Tehran, the final destination. The distance is about 10,300 kilometers.
On this occasion, transit time was 14 days but it could be as short as 10 days. In the future, if trains are routed via Inche Borum, the new border crossing between Turkmenistan and Iran that was opened last year, the shorter distance should reduce the transit time still further.
Organised by the InterRail Group, this pilot train covered the distance in half the time of a conventional sea voyage. Provided back loads can be arranged, this could be the start of a fortnightly service, made more attractive by the recent lifting of sanctions on Iran.
Hans Reinhard, president of InterRail Holding AG, said: “We see significant potential for further growth and for developing new destinations in container transit traffic via the Landbridge. In order to fully exhaust this potential though, more innovation is needed in transport and trade logistics, so that a balance is reached between the container flows in both directions, east and west bound.”