Azerbaijan to finance half of Iran’s Rasht-Astara railway (exclusive)
Tehran, Iran, September 21
By Mehdi Sepahvand, Farhad Daneshvar – Trend:
The Islamic Republic of Iran Railways (RAI) has said that Azerbaijan will provide Iran with 500 million euros worth of loan for completing the Rasht-Astara railway segment as part of the International North-South Transportation Corridor.
"Keeping in mind the mutual benefits of the Rasht-Astara railway for the two countries, the government of Azerbaijan has agreed to finance the project," Nourollah Beiranvand, the deputy for planning and investment at RAI told Trend.
He denied the recent rumors that suggested Baku would fully finance the Rasht-Astara segment. Beiranvand, added that the half of required amount for completing the railways section will be provided by Azerbaijan and Iran is expected to provide the second half.
"The finance will come in the form of loan," Beiranvand said, adding that the invested sum will be later subtracted from the revenues of the project.
Astara railway station
Beiranvand further touched upon the project for the construction of Astara railway station and said the Azerbaijani side has agreed to invest in the building of the station and cargo terminals.
The Azerbaijani officials had earlier agreed to provide 60 million euros for developing railway facilities in Astara city (Iran).
According to the official, about a half of this amount is projected to finance the construction of a 1.4 kilometer-long railway in Astara as well as the railway station building.
The remaining half will go for the construction of four terminals of fueling, general cargo, grain and containers, he said.
To complete the railway links of the transportation corridor, Iran had earlier agreed to construct inland railway segments in northern parts of the country in order to extend its railway network to the border area with the neighboring Azerbaijan through the two cities of Astara on both sides.
The initial plan included Qazvin-Rasht and Rasht-Astara railway segments. In the meantime, Azerbaijan has launched a construction project to extend its railway into Iran’s territory which is going through the final tests and will be implemented soon.
Director of Technical and Infrastructural Department Maziar Yazdani said in June that the terminal would be operational in "two months". However, the project still remains unfinished.
On September 18, Jabbar Ali Zakeri, the railway development manager at Construction and Development of Transportation Infrastructures Company, said his organization still needs two months to complete Rasht-Qazvin segment.
Citing lack of funding as the most serious problem, Zakeri said that technical problems and lack of a certain type of steel shield to be used in securing parts of the railway also worked against the timely accomplishment of the projects.
The International North-South Transport Corridor is meant to connect Northern Europe with Southeast Asia. It will serve as a link connecting the railways of Azerbaijan, Iran and Russia.
The corridor is planned to transport 6 million tons of cargo per year at the initial stage and 15-20 million tons of cargo in the future.