Baku, Azerbaijan, May 10
By Fatih Karimov - Trend: Russia will build the Rasht-Astara railway in northern part of Iran.
The president of Iranian Railways, Mohsen Pour Seyed Aqaei and chairman of the Council of the Board and president of Russian Railways JSC, Vladimir Yakunin discussed six rail projects, Iran's IRIB news agency reported on May 10.
Heads of the railways of Iran, Russia, and Azerbaijan agreed that the Rasht-Astara railway to be built by Russia. Also, the Azerbaijani side will extend the railway from Iran-Azerbaijan border into Azerbaijan's territory.
Mohsen Pour Seyed Aqaei said Iran is ready to revise transit tariffs in order to increase the volume of goods which are transited through the country.
The 60th meeting of the Council on Rail Transport wrapped up on May 7, 2014 in Astana, capital of Kazakhstan.
Iran requested the inclusion of Iran's railway administration as an associate member of the Council.
Qazvin-Rasht-Astara railway in Iran will connect North Europe to Southeast Asia.
Qazvin-Rasht-Astara railway, with a length of 375km, is intended to connect Iran's railway to Azerbaijan and Russia, Fars news agency quoted Iranian Railways Company's managing director Mohsen Pour Seyed Aqaei as saying on April 23.
The railway is currently the missing link in the North-South corridor, which, when completed, will extend from Northern Europe to Southeast Asia, he added.
The Qazvin-Rasht section with a length of 205km has been completed, he noted.
On January 10, ISNA quoted Deputy Director of the Iranian Transportation Infrastructures Development Company, Hossein Nazadar as saying the Qazvin-Rasht-Astara railway project is complete by 84 percent.
The railway is estimated to carry 1.4 million passengers and from five to seven million tonnes of cargo per year, he added.
Trains of up to 160 kilometers speed per hour will be used in the project, he noted.
On December 13, ISNA quoted Deputy Director of the Iranian Transportation Infrastructures Development Company, Hossein Nazadar, as saying that the Qazvin-Rasht-Astara railway project has been grappling with a budget deficit.
The railway had been scheduled to be inaugurated this year, but the project is faced with a budget deficit, he added. If the financial problem is resolved, the railway will be inaugurated next year, he said.
It should be recalled that the Qazvin-Rasht-Astara railway is part of 'the North-South' transport corridor and is being constructed by Azerbaijan, Russia and Iran.
On Nov. 18, Azerbaijan's ambassador to Tehran Javanshir Akhundov underlined the importance of this rail route for the expansion of bilateral ties between Tehran and Baku, IRNA reported.
"Launching the Qazvin-Rasht-Astara railway will lead to expansion of economic relations between Iran and Azerbaijan," Akhundov said during a visit made by representatives of the Economic Cooperation Organisation (ECO) whilst referring to the under-construction of the Qazvin-Rasht-Astara rail network.
He pointed out that its construction will link Iran's railway system to Russia via Azerbaijan.
"These three countries, namely Iran, Azerbaijan and Russia, have a trilateral contract for construction and completion of the railway system," he added.