Iran and Russia have prepared all the needed technical and economic plans to build a highway to link Iran's Northern city of Rasht to the Russian capital city of Moscow via Azerbaijan, a provincial official announced on Sunday, FARS news agency reported.
"The project to link Rasht to Moscow through the construction of Baku-Astara highway... is under implementation," Governor-General of Iran's Northern Gilan province Rouhollah Qahremani Chabok told reporters today.
Qahremani Chabok made the remarks elaborating on the achievements of his recent visit to Azerbaijan.
He added that a decision was also made during his recent visit to Baku to accelerate the construction of Rasht-Astara-Russia railway.
The official also announced that Iran has plans to link Gilan to Europe in the future.
A working group comprising representatives from Iran, Azerbaijan and Russia held a meeting in Tehran late March 2008, during which the railway organizations of the three countries signed an MoU on practical cooperation in the project.
Under the Tehran agreement, feasibility studies in relation to the Iranian segment were due to be completed in six months and submitted to Azerbaijan and Russia. Once the feasibility studies were confirmed, terms of construction were determined, according to the same agreement.
The cargo transportation volume by this route will total around 5-7 million tons in the first phase with a further increase of up to 15-20 million tons.
In August 2004, the parties concluded an agreement on the creation of a joint stock-company for constructing and exploiting Qazvin-Rasht-Anzali-Astara railway with initial charter capital of $6 million ($2 million from each country).
Under Iranian experts' calculations, Rasht-Anzali segment would cost $600 million and Anzali-Astara would need a $200 million construction budget.
Iran and Azerbaijan had earlier signed an agreement on a railway link at the two countries' borders.
Creation of North-South corridor will simplify delivery of transit cargo from Asian-Pacific Ocean region to the Persian Gulf. The delivery will cost 10-15% cheaper and will save 20 days compared to the Suez Canal route.