Tehran, Iran, Jan. 23
Abbas Akhoundi, Iran's minister of roads and urban development, has described the North-South Transportation Corridor as “significant”.
“This corridor is of enormous significance. I assume over nine million tons of cargo will be carried between India and Russia through the North-South corridor. This is only between the two countries. In addition to these two destinations there is another destination which extends to the west. Therefore this corridor is of high importance and that is why we have prioritized it,” he told Trend.
“The issue of the corridor is not restricted to the infrastructure. The issue of the commercial network surrounding the corridor is also very important. Our recent visit to India was aimed at creating the commercial network,” he added.
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. At the initial stage, it is planned to transport 5 million tons of cargo per year through the corridor and over 10 million tons of cargo in future.
The Iranian administration has recently authorized the country’s Ministry of Economic Affairs and Finance to receive $500 million in loan from Azerbaijan for the construction of Rasht-Astara railroad segment which is a part of the corridor. The administration has envisaged a construction period of three years with a grace period of six months and a payback period of seven years.
In order to complete the mega project of the North-South Corridor, three railroad segments connecting the northwestern city of Qazvin to the border city of Astara should be constructed inside Iran.
The first segment is Qazvin-Rasht, which, according to Iranian officials, is almost completed and expected to be inaugurated over the current Iranian calendar year (started March 20, 2017).
The second segment connecting the cities of Rasht and Astara is expected to be constructed within three years with the financial aid of Azerbaijan.
In the meantime the sides are expected to utilize the Astara-Astara segment, which will connect the two border cites of the same name in Iran and Azerbaijan in near future.