Baku, Azerbaijan, Dec. 22
Azerbaijan and Iran have reached an agreement to finish the first phase of the project to create the North-South railway corridor before late 2016, Azerbaijani Ministry of Economy and Industry told Trend Dec.22
The parties came to such an agreement within the framework of the tenth meeting of the Azerbaijani-Iranian Joint Commission on Economic, Trade and Humanitarian Cooperation in Tehran.
The meeting of the intergovernmental commission began its work Dec.21 and ended Dec.22 with the signing of the protocol. The co-chairman of the intergovernmental commission from the Azerbaijani side was Minister of Economy and Industry Shahin Mustafayev, the Iranian side - Minister of Communications and Information Technologies Mahmoud Vaezi.
The first phase of construction work envisages construction of a cross-border railway bridge between Iranian and Azerbaijani Astara and 8-kilometers-long branch on Azerbaijan's territory, said the ministry.
Moreover, a terminal will be built and a broad road will be laid in the territory of Iran. This will simplify the procedure for transporting goods from Iran via Azerbaijan.
The North-South Corridor, originating in India and stretching to Helsinki, is one of the most important routes for Azerbaijan.
It's quite a long way, about 5,000 kilometers, which also stretches through the territory of Azerbaijan. The annual capacity of the transit of goods from Iran to Russia via Azerbaijan is about 10 million tons. This index between Europe and India is about 25 million tons. Most of the cargo is transported by sea, which takes 45 to 60 days. Therefore, the transshipment through Azerbaijan is more acceptable and this route is most optimal.
The North-South railway will link Northern Europe with South-Eastern Asia. It will serve as a link between the railways of Iran, Azerbaijan and Russia.
The railway's capacity will be 1.4 million passengers and 5-7 million tons of cargo per year, according to the preliminary estimates. Moreover, 22 tunnels and 15 bridges will be built along the railway.
At the initial stage, it is planned to transport 6 million tons of cargo via the North-South corridor per year, while 15-20 million tons of cargo in the future.