Tehran Metro Guide
You’ll either love the Tehran metro or you’ll hate it. Here’s a concise Tehran metro guide with useful information about networks and practical advice to help you get around Tehran faster
Tehran Metro Network
The Tehran metro system currently has four major lines running between 5 am to 10 pm. However new lines are currently under construction, with future planning for 8 lines in total. This includes a line reaching the Imam Khomeini International Airport (IKIA).
Line 1 (red line) is the most popular connecting Tehran south to the modern and affluent areas of Tehran north. It’s the busiest line because it connects the northern suburbs around Darband (Tajrish Station) to Tehran’s CBD including the Grand Bazaar (Panzdah-e- Khordad Station), Ab-o-Atash Park and Tabiat Bridge (Haqqani Station).
Line 2 (dark blue) connects the eastern and western suburbs as far away as Karaj City. Imam Khomeini Station is the most famous and crowded station because it intersects with Line 1. This used to be called Toopkhaneh Square during the Last Shah’s regime, and is also the largest public square in the city center.
Line 3 (Light Blue) is the newest line of the Tehran Metro, and is still partially under construction. Line 3 connects the north eastern suburbs to the south west. It’s often crowded, not only because it currently has limited operational capacity and train frequency, but also because it generates trips from the Tehran City Theater (Te’atr e Shah) and popular Vali Asr Square.
Line 4 (Yellow) also runs east and west. The Yellow Line is getting more popular because Mehrabad Airport Terminal, the largest airport in Iran, has recently opened a station connecting to the city center.
Line 5 (Green) Line 5 is coloured green on system maps; it is a 43-kilometer-long (27 mi) commuter rail line and has 11 stations. Entering the area of Karaj with main stations at Karaj and Golshahr. It connects with the western end of Line 2 at Tehran (Sadeghiyeh) station.
Line 6 (Green) This line is under construction. When completed this line will be 33 km long with 19 stations as it connects southeast Tehran to northwest. A tunnel-boring machine (TBM) is used to construct the tunnel.
Line 7 (Purple) This line, similar to line 6, and in contrast with line 3, goes from northwest to southeast and was constructed with modern TBM machines. Its first phase, compromising of 18 km (11 mi) of line and 7 stations were opened in June 2017.
Line 8 (Light Green) Line 8 connects Tehran to Imam Khomeini International Airport. Its first phase, to Shahr-e-Aftab station, opened in 2016, and the airport station opened in August 2017. It is the only metro line in Tehran that is completely open 24 hours a day (even if the frequency is only 80 minutes…), in order to accommodate passengers from late night and early morning flights (Line 1’s Darvazeh Dowlat station is the only other metro station outside of Line 8 with that classification). A third phase, which is currently under construction, will extend Line 8 to the satellite city of Parand and bring the total length of the line to 50 km (31 mi). Its 120 km (75 mi) per hour speeds classify it as an express subway line, the first of its kind on the Tehran Metro.
How to Buy a Ticket in Tehran Metro?
Take the escalator or stairs down to the station hall from street level. Once you arrive you’ll come across two types of ticket kiosks; one that sells paper tickets such as one-way tickets (belite tak safar) and two-way tickets (belite do safar), and the other type of kiosk that recharge and sells ‘EZ Pay’ electronic cards (karte belite electronic).
TIP: If you’re going to stay long-term in Tehran (for over a week), it’s better to buy an electronic card because not only are they vastly cheaper and more convenient, but they can also be used for the BRT (Bus Rapid Transit) lines and the regular Tehran public buses.
Boarding the Train
Sound like a piece of cake so far? Well think again, if you arrive during peak hour (7-10 am and 4-8 pm) you’ll find getting on the train the biggest test. You’ll find people jostle and shove getting onto and off the trains. Just remember to be patient yet also determined to push a little, otherwise be prepared to wait until the rush if over.
Note: It’s generally better using the midday trains and night trains, especially at the end of the lines, just don’t expect to always get a seat.
However if you get stuck in the mad rush, remember the first and last carriages are for ‘Women Only.’ Unless ladies accompany their partners on mixed carriages, or don’t mind the occasional grope. But don’t worry the guys feel violated too in that tight space, so you won’t be alone.
Note: The Women Only carriages tend to be safer and also slightly less crowded, so it’s recommended to use them.
Inside the Train
There’s generally a metro map above every second door. These are displayed in both Persian and English, so if you can’t understand the station calls these are very useful.
During the ride you’ll probably come across several peddlers trying to sell their goods. They roam the trains for hours calling out jokes and sales pitches. You may find some humorous and others slightly scary, especially if the train is packed tight. Most of their products are Chinese trinkets or simple packs of gum. Just don’t get too close as some are pickpocketers. However, they usually do not target tourists, because if the locals notice, they will gang up on whoever gives you trouble.
If it is crowded, it is better to avoid the door threshold. You are better off making your way to the sides or aisles, especially for longer trips, otherwise expect to be pushed as people embark and disembark the train. On the other hand, if your stop is approaching, try to make your way to the middle of the door. Because you will not often have enough time to make your way through the moshpit of people. However if you are a woman, or simply worried about getting off, just raise your voice and say ‘Bebakhshid’ (sounds like ‘bebashid’) meaning excuse me. You will find locals respect foreigners, finding you either interesting or funny. The result – just like Moses parting the sea.
Tuning your Direction
If you want to change lines, for example Line 1 to Line 2 at Imam Khomeini Station, you will see Sadeghiye (West) and Farhangsara (East) signs. Therefore, it helps to know your directions. Exiting the stations is just like every other metro of the world. Just remember to swipe your ticket as you cross the turnstiles, because if you do not, your card will be charged the maximum fare.