Tehran, Iran, June 25
By Kamyar Eghbalnejad, A. Shirazi - Trend:
Director General of International Affairs Office with the Islamic Republic of Iran Railways, Abbas Nazari, said Iran and Azerbaijan are working on the technical details of Rasht-Astara railway project.
Iran and Azerbaijan recently signed a joint venture agreement to construct Rasht-Astara railway in the presence of the two countries’ economy ministers, Nazari told the Trend.
Baku has allocated a loan worth $500 million for the construction of the railway and both sides are now working on the technical details of the contract, he added.
The two countries are working on a roadmap to determine all the details related to the construction of the railway, Nazari said.
The Rasht-Astara-Qazvin railway project envisages the construction on the territory of Iran of a new railway line connecting Azerbaijan's Astara to the Iranian cities of Astara, Rasht and Qazvin.
Nazari further said that the construction of the Astara-Astara Railroad, which is part of the Rasht-Astara project, is finalized and that cargoes, mostly wheat and MDF (the Medium Density Fiberboard) panels, are being transferred through the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC) from Moscow.
The Astara-Astara Railroad runs 8 kilometers in Azerbaijan up to the border from where it extends 2 km to Iran’s port city of Astara.
Qazvin-Rasht is a missing link in INSTC, which will connect Iran with Russia’s Baltic ports and give Russia rail connectivity to both the Persian Gulf and the Indian rail network.
This means goods could be carried from Mumbai to the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas and further to Baku. They could then pass across the Russian border into Astrakhan before proceeding to Moscow and St. Petersburg, before entering Europe.
The corridor would substantially cut the travel time for everything from Asian consumer goods to Central Eurasia’s natural resources to advanced European exports.
When completed, the INSTC is expected to increase the volume of commodities currently traded between Iran and Azerbaijan from 600,000 tons to 5 million tons per year, dramatically increasing bilateral trade from the current $500 million per year.