You like the most spectacular railroad locations on Earth? Then you should add Iran to your collection of places to visit. And once there, the Trans-Iranian comes first.
The Trans-Iranian spans 1392 km / 865 miles from the Persian Gulf at the port of Bandar-e Emam Khomeyni (known as Bandar Shahpur before the 1979 Iranian Revolution) to Bandar Torkaman (formerly, Bandar Shah), a port on the Caspian Sea, via Tehran, passing two 2000 meter-high mountain ranges. Inaugurated in 1938, it was built by two successive consortiums with Danish-Swedish Kampsax leading the construction of the mountainous sections. The works were completed by many Austrian, German and Italian subcontractors. This explains the German or Swiss look of the line bridges, tunnel portals and masonry artifacts. During WWII, the British, American and Soviet armies intensively used the line to carry military supplies north to USSR from and though non Axis-occupied regions (the “Persian Corridor”).
The picture shows a northbound petroleum products train in the Zagros mountains between Andimeshk and Doroud, near the remote Shabazhan station, 602 km south of Teheran by rail.
Railroad photography in Iran presents many challenges:
- The most scenic locations are inaccessible, there is no road and even if there is one, much hiking effort in difficult terrain is often needed
- It is almost impossible to get information about train traffic
- There is currently a ban on railroad photography in Iran – it is strictly prohibited – with risks to spend some unpleasant time with the local police, or worse - although the risk is low when you are away from towns and stations.
As the economic sanctions on Iran are over, it progressively becomes possible to do some (still limited) railroad photography. After a lot of efforts, Bernd Seiler (FarRail Tours) just pioneered in May a first train photography tour with official photography permit, thanks to purchasing – at significant price – a charter train (diesel-hauled). Being on the permanent lookout for “most spectacular railroads”, I sure did not miss this opportunity. May Bernd, the RAI and the Iranian Tour organizers be hugely thanked for this grand premiere!