Chinese-built metro in Tehran expanded

Iran joined the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in January 2016. In 2021 it joined the China-led Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, and on 1 January 2024 Iran formally became a member of the 10-member BRICS alliance.

By 2021, China has been Iran’s largest trade partner for over a decade and made $26.5 billion worth of investments since 2005. China has funded the establishment of research and development parks in Iran and the two countries have signed multiple memoranda of understanding to boost science and energy, nanotechnology, and medicine and health cooperation, all of which benefit from quantum computing, big data, and 5G technology.

The Tehran Metro is a rapid transit system serving Tehran, the capital city of Iran, with a current metro area population in 2024 of just under 10 million inhabitants. The system began operation in 1999 and consists of six lines and 112 stations. The system is owned and operated by Tehran Urban and Suburban Railway.

Tehran’s is one of the busiest metros in the Middle East and renown for its cleanliness

The Tehran Metro carries some 5 million passengers per day. In 2016 five lines, all built by Chinese companies, were in service in the capital, and two more were opened in March 2023.


The $5.8bn Tehran Metro Expansion project involves construction of new metro lines, new tunnels, high and low-pressure energy systems, workshops, and an automatic fare collection system. It also involves the installation of safety systems, control facilities, signalling systems, and switching and communications systems.

Excavation work for metro line 10 commenced in August 2023. All three lines are expected to be completed by the start of 2029.

In November 2023 the Urban Development and Transportation Commission of the Tehran City Council announced that measures have been taken to localize and transfer knowledge for the Chinese metro carriages purchased. The project, consisting of 630 Tehran metro carriages, is recognized as the largest metro fleet procurement project in the history of Tehran’s metro system. The number of purchased carriages has increased to 791. Some of the carriages will be imported ready-made from China, while others will be assembled in Iran, and certain components of the carriages will be produced domestically.

The Mayor of Tehran, Alireza Zakani, said that significant agreements for investment and construction projects have been reached with Chinese entities following his October 2023 trip to China.

On 1 Feb 2024, Zakani announced that three contracts have been signed, including agreement for the construction of metro line 11.

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