China and Iran will sign the final agreement to build a railway network in the western part of Iran on Sept. 12, Iranian Minister of Road and Transportation Hamid Behbahani said on Aug. 29.
Iran's Fars News Agency quoted Behbahani as saying that the planned railway network, which is expected to be finished in two and a half years, will connect Tehran to the central cities of Arak, Malayer, Hamedan, the western city of Kermanshah and the bordering town of Khosravi.
Iranian officials said that the railway lines will be expanded to Iraq and connect Syria and Mediterranean countries. Analysts believe that the expanded railway network will bring significant economic, social and political benefits.
"Iran has signed some concluding documents with related Chinese companies. China's Minister of Railways will visit Iran on Sept. 12 and witness the signature of this 2-billion-U.S.-dollar contract," Behbahani said.
He also disclosed that the funding source for the project has not been determined.
Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad suggested in a summit conference with leaders of Afghanistan and Tajikistan that a railway network connecting with China, Afghanistan, Tajikistan and Iran should be built.