You could be forgiven, if you ever wondered whether Iran ( being the sanctioned country it is) had a possibly backward Metro or subway system. Any information on navigating this Tehran City Metro seemed rare, even with the informative Lonely Planet guides. We felt this is something that our readers would welcomed and so here’s a summarised guide on taking the subway.
Let’s start with the map. The metro has 4 current operational lines ( with a 5th commuter rail line) and is broken down into 5 colours, with red and blue being the major lines. The central station would be Emam Khomeni station (featured image). Between stations, the walking distance is around 15 mins street level and the major sights are dotted along the red/ blue line stations (Golestan Palace, National Jewels Museum, Tehran Grand Bazaar, Sa’dabad Complex etc)
On to the purchase of tickets. Each ticket is 5000 rials (as of Jul 2016), it is valid for one person, one way, to any station along the lines (even if you change lines) without an expiry date. This is extremely affordable and the ticket purchase process is easy with English interfaces . For convenience, it is probably better to purchase a bunch of tickets since tourists would usually carry larger notes. If all things fail, there is a ticket counter where the tickets are slightly more expensive at 7000 rials.
Similar to other metros, you insert the ticket at the entrance gantry and the gantry punches a hole onto the ticket. Upon exit, the holed ticket is shown to the guard and he may / may not collect the ticket.
Navigating within the station is relatively simple as well, with English signs pointing to local sights. On the train platforms, summarised maps also help to ensure that we were travelling in the right direction. The seats were standard and simple (expect close contact and staring from locals). Female travellers fret not, there are women-only cabins at the front of the trains, signs on the platform would guide you accordingly.
For this trip, we went to the most northern station of Tajrish (near to Mt Darmand, and Sa’adbad complex), which was about 45 mins ride away from Emam Khomeni. What impressed us most were the myriad of sellers on the metro, these merchants walked the length of the train consistently to advertise their goods (ranging from small electronics to slippers to toys to mops etc). They brought colour and life to the mundane of train travelling, and was definitely a local culture to behold.
All in all, the Tehran metro certainly exceeded expectations and is definitely an interesting way to people-watch.
Hopefully this quick guide helped. Unfortunately we are unable to post the videos we have as of yet. Leave us a comment if you need a link/ more info.
*Travelled in July 2016