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Author nfmungard
Partaker
#76 | Posted: 28 Jul 2021 05:18 
Solivagant:
Surely we all recognise that this site doesn't deserve the status of "World" heritage - its inscription was a farce. In the early days of "World Heritage", nominations used to be rejected frequently for only being of "Regional" or "National" importance - not a valid reason now. This railway clearly fitted one of those categories.

I think the Trans Iranian Railway is wrong on so many levels. We are talking about a railway in 1938. In comparison, the Union Pacific railway was built in 1870 crossing the huge expanse that is Western America incl. the Rocky Mountains. The Transsib (crossing icey Siberia) was built at the turn of the century. I dont see what key engineering feat was accomplished here. Answer none.

It was not built by Iranians but Americans and Germans. So even a national heritage seems weird. The state of preservation looks poor. And inscribing it as a complete railway without singling out the bits that needs to be preserved, means that de facto they should be put in danger as of this minute. I think they will modernize and rebuild and ...

Regarding regional and national importance, I feel that the argument nowadays is, we are a nation, our nation's history is part of the history of humanity and deserves to be praised and protected as world heritage. By that logic each and every national symbol could be inscribed as it is part of the nation's history. Worst example I have seen of late was Hortobagy, Hungary; a review is coming.

To me, and that pains me to say, the world heritage label is losing fast its appeal. At a certain point having the designation will no longer be a sign of quality. It should not be nationalitistic and it becomes.

Some orga changes are due. E.g. the committee should not contain any nations that apply for the status this and next WHC. The experts should propose sites. The total number of new sites should be limited...

Author watkinstravel
Partaker
#77 | Posted: 28 Jul 2021 15:39 
I meant OUV sarcastically and must say I am going to become much more selective in which sites I will be making an effort to view in the future. In that regard this community is much more valuable than any official unesco status of a site would automatically infer. It is sad that it has come to this point, but is inevitable from the way the system is set up. I still believe there are many quality and worthy sites sitting in the tentative lists that will hopefully make it forward sooner than later.

Author Solivagant
Partaker
#78 | Posted: 1 Aug 2021 02:36 | Edited by: Solivagant 
Trans-Iranian Railway (TIR)
Whilst researching more about the TIR I came across this c42 minute video (in English) from 2017 by the German broadcaster Deutche Welle.

I recommend the video to anyone wanting a better feel for this newly inscribed WHS. It reports a journey along the TIR from Khorramshahr all the way to Bandar Torkaman. The commentary is a bit pedestrian and there are a few unnecessary political observations but, IMO, it provides an excellent vignette of what the rail journey is like. It also gives a nice impression of travel in Iran more generally with a number of personal interactions (plus a few rather stilted interviews), visits to places a bit away from the railway and little depictions of Iranian life - it made me want to go back!!! It isn't quite clear under what sort of "rules" and official assistance it was made, but there are plenty of shots of the train taken from roadsides etc so there was probably some external help.

The video shows that the rail journey could be a nice part of an Iran tour and that some of the route is reasonably spectacular. The main "scenic" and "technical" sections are those crossing the Zagros mountains between Andimeshk and Dorud and the Elburz between Garmsar and Sari. The former area is notable since it is largely inaccessible by road. The movie isn't aimed at railway buffs with technical interests and doesn't dwell on the tunnels and spirals! The highest point of 2112 m at Gaduk is nothing special in height or to see. The crossing of Veresk bridge is shown... Yes it is quite spectacular with a deep canyon and a high bridge but nothing that travellers on other railways around the world won't have seen on non-inscribed lines. The other parts of the line are fairly standard semi-desert countryside and one doesn't mind the time spent talking to other travellers rather than showing the views! It was nice to be reminded just how amazingly lush the rice fields along the Caspian shore are after days of desert travel - but otherwise that part of the journey is nothing special either. The completely new station at Qom miles out of town built to take the "High speed" train (160 kms per hour!) also showed the changes that the line is undergoing. The only really "historic" railway heritage shown was of one of Iran's earliest railways - a loco from the short 1888 line from Tehran to Rey - which is not a part of this WHS.

My "researches" are giving me some causes to "re-evaluate" my assessment of this site - in particular in comparison with the Rhaetian WHS which was also evaluated as not having OUV related to "railway technology" but seems to have played the "ICOMOS game" better during formulation and evaluation via a not particularly logical definition of OUV and thus avoided having to rely on the "goodwill" of the WHC for inscription!! To be fair to ICOMOS - they did offer a similar approach to Iran but at the cost of a delay in inscription of course. I haven't yet decided whther to "up" my TIR rating or reduce that of the Rhaetian (or both)!!

Author nfmungard
Partaker
#79 | Posted: 2 Aug 2021 03:06 | Edited by: nfmungard 
Solivagant:
travel in Iran

Currently not possible. Borders closed.

Solivagant:
TIR rating or reduce that of the Rhaetian (or both)!!

I don't think both inscriptions are the same. The Swiss did not simply inscribe all Swiss (alpine) railways as Helvetian Railways. The Rhaetian railways is a limited site consisting of especially scenic and well preserved track including bridges and aqueducts. If I understand TIR right, it covers everything, including new train stations, downtrodden tracks, ...

It's this limitless approach that I object to. As requested by the advisory body, they could and should have redone the dossier and identified the key components. Now, it will be nearly impossible for a visitor to identify OUV standing at e.g. Teheran railway station and comparing it to Bombay. Or London. Or... It's one of the sites where the visiting experience will be down to luck: Did you pick a good spot or a bad one.

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