Iran, Azerbaijan, Georgia discussing new railway (Exclusive)
Tehran, Iran, December 22
By Mehdi Sepahvand - Trend:
Iran, Azerbaijan, and Georgia are for the day going to discuss a new railway that will connect the Persian Gulf via Azerbaijan to the Black Sea, Baham Zarghami, head of the Islamic Republic of Iran Railways International Relations Department said.
The construction of the part of the railway that stretches from Iran's city of Qazvin to Rasht will be over in one year and the Rasht-Astara (Iran) part will be completed later, he told Trend on the sidelines of the Caspian Sea littoral states expert meeting in Tehran.
Azerbaijan is going to fund and build a distance of seven kilometers from Iran's Astara to Azerbaijan's Astara, which includes a bridge, Zarghami noted.
The studies of the project have already been made and the experts are doing preliminary preparations for ministers to approve the decisions on December 23, according to the official.
Azerbaijan has previously offered Iran to use the North-South transport corridor for transporting cargo to the Black Sea.
The proposal was put forward during the 10th meeting of Iran-Azerbaijan intergovernmental commission on economic, trade and humanitarian cooperation that kicked off in Tehran Dec.21.
During the meeting, the Iranian side has been proposed to use the North-South transport corridor and Azerbaijan's transport infrastructure for transporting its goods to Russia, as well as to the West - Black Sea - through Azerbaijan and Georgia.
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 project envisages construction of a cross-border railway bridge between Iranian and Azerbaijani Astara and 8-kilometers-long branch on Azerbaijan's territory.
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.