BAKU, Azerbaijan, March 17
Transit of goods through Iran could increase significantly if Iran improves its railways within the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC), Iranian Minister of Roads and Urban Development Rostam Ghasemi said, Trend reports citing the ministry.
He made the remark during an event dedicated to the commissioning of 470 railway vehicles in Iran on March 16, 2022.
According to Ghasemi, it is important for Iran to develop railway transport to connect the eastern countries to the western countries, as well as the northern countries to the southern countries.
He added that the volume of cargo that can be transported via Iran from Russia, the Caucasus and even Europe in direction to the southern countries and vice versa is very large.
“For example, Russia exports 20-25 million tons of coal a year to India. The cargo is transported to India via the Black Sea and the Red Sea and requires a lot of money. However, if the corridors through Iran are improved, Russia could use the Iranian route, and as a result, it will be able to save a lot of money and reduce the time of cargo transportation, as well as, Iran could earn a lot of money in this way,” Ghasemi said.
The minister also noted that during a visit to Azerbaijan last week, a number of fruitful agreements were signed between Iran and Azerbaijan.
Ghasemi pointed out that there is a railway line from the Shahid Rajaee port (southern Iran) to the Rasht city (northern Iran). If a 160-kilometer railway is built from Rasht to Astara, the Iranian railway will easily connect to Azerbaijan and Russia.
The minister stressed that $1 billion is needed for the construction of the Rasht-Astara railway line, which equals the annual budget of the Iranian Ministry of Roads and Urban Development.
The foundation of the ‘International North-South Transport Corridor’ was laid on the basis of an intergovernmental agreement signed between Russia, Iran, and India on September 12, 2000.
In total, 13 countries have ratified the agreement, including Azerbaijan, India, Iran, Russia, Turkey, etc.
The purpose of creating a corridor is to reduce the delivery time of cargo from India to Russia, as well as to North and West Europe. Delivery time on the current route is more than 6 weeks, it is expected to be reduced to 3 weeks via North-South Transport Corridor.
The 175 km long Qazvin-Rasht railway was officially put into operation on March 6, 2019, to connect Azerbaijani railways with the Iranian railway network within the corridor. In addition, the 167 km long Rasht-Astara railway line must be built in Iran.
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