IT'S a ringing endorsement of Iarnrod Eireann from the most unlikely quarter.
Controversial Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is campaigning to be re-elected on the plank that his country is advancing as rapidly as a train, only the train in question is Irish, almost as old as he is and until 2007 was delivering freight around the country.
An Irish tourist visiting Iran couldn't believe his eyes when he spotted the locomotive fronting an election poster in the centre of Tehran, and forwarded the photo to a friend working for Iarnrod Eireann.
The General Motors 181 was scrapped two years ago, although two of its number are still working. That said, it did have a 43-year career, entering service in 1966.
Yesterday, Iarnrod Eireann said while it didn't support any candidate in the presidential elections, it would have preferred to see one of its new trains on display.
"We fully expected Irish public transport, and our plans to develop the rail service, to feature in our own election campaign last week, but to feature in Iran was a bit of a surprise," spokesman Barry Kenny said.
The Farsi script on the poster says: "The country is advancing as rapidly as a train."
The Iranian Embassy said it could not comment on where the image of the locomotive came from, and the office of the president could not be contacted last night. The embassy reminded Iranians living here to vote on Friday in the presidential election between 9am and 7pm in the Iranian Embassy at 72 Mount Merrion Avenue, Blackrock, Co Dublin.