The first rails in Iran date back to the second half of the 18th century at the time of Nasser-Eddin Shah (Qajar dynasty) when a short suburban Railway in the south of Tehran between Darvazeh-ye Shahr-e-Rey and Horr Square was established. This railway was first horse-hauled, later steam traction was introduced. The line was closed down in 1952. An original train is still visible as a monument in the center of Shar-e-Rey south of Tehran.
The Trans Iranian Railway
In 1939, the Trans-Iranian Railway was opened, built entirely by local capital. It is 1,392 km long and connects Bandar-E-Torkaman (formerly Bandar-E-Shah) on the Caspian Sea to Bandar-E-Emam Khomeyni (formerly Bandar-E-Shahpur) on the Persian Gulf. From south to north this all important railway passes through and connects together the cities of Ahvaz, Dezful, Arak, Qom, Tehran, Garmsar, Firuzkuh, Qaem Shahr (formerly Shahi) and Behshahr. At that time, Iran had 146 kilometers of railroad between Tabriz and Jolfa (built in 1916), 53 km between Sufiyan and Sharaf Khaneh (built in 1916), and 92 km connecting Mir Javeh to Zahedan, completed in 1920.
Extending the Network
After the second world war a number of subsidiary lines were added to the Trans-Iranian trunk railroad such as Ahvaz-Khorram Shahr 123 km, Qom-Kashan 98 km, Tehran-Mashhad 925 km, Tehran-Tabriz 742 km and Bandar-E-Torkaman - Gorgan 36 km. In the last decades the Kashan railway has been extended through Esfahan to Yazd, Bafq and Zarand and a new line from Kashan to Yazd has gone through Bad, Na'in, Meybod and another extension has connected Kerman to Zarand.
Opening for International Transit
In the northwest of Iran a line from Sharaf Khaneh on Lake Orumieh over Qotur was opened in 1977 linking Iranian railways to international standard gauge network. It has great importance in view of huge amount of merchandise and great number of passengers that are annually transported from Iran to Turkey and Europe and vice versa. In 1993 Bafq-Bandar Abbas branch was opened providing a link to this important Iranian port on the Strait of Hormoz. With the opening of the Mashad-Sarakhs branch in 1996 as part of the silk road railway a new transportation facility to Central Asian countries (Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kasachstan) and China was added.