Economy, Business And Markets

Iran Expedites International Transportation Plans

Iran Expedites International Transportation Plans
Iran Expedites International Transportation Plans

Efforts to utilize Iran’s transportation capacities are gaining momentum, with multilateral meetings with Europe, Turkey and CIS states held in Tehran in recent days focusing on transit corridors between Asia and Europe.

In a meeting held in Tehran on Sunday, rail industry executives from Iran, Germany, Azerbaijan and Georgia discussed a rail corridor from India to Central Asia and Europe through Iran, Azerbaijan, Russia and Georgia.

This route is known as the International North-South Transport Corridor.

The meeting was attended by CEO of the Islamic Republic of Iran Railways, Mohsen Pourseyyed Aqaei; managing director of Trans Eurasia Logistics, Andre Hempel; chairman of Azerbaijan Railways, Javid Gurbanov; director general of Georgian Railways, Mamuka Bakhtadze; and regional director of Middle East at Deutche Bahn International, Arash Mirzaei, Ministry of Roads and Urban Development’s news service reported.

All sides involved in the project would connect Iran with Russia’s Baltic ports and give Russia connectivity to both the Persian Gulf and the Indian rail network. This would mean that goods could be carried from Mumbai to the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas and further to Baku whereby they can be transported to Europe from two defined routes.

Shipments could pass over the Russian border into Astrakhan before going on to Moscow and St. Petersburg, then onward into Europe.

Another route would pass through Georgia’s Poti and Batumi ports and to Romania and southern Europe from the Black Sea.

The corridor would cut the travel time for every commodity from Asian consumer goods to Central Eurasia’s natural resources to advanced European exports.

“We will have done a great job if we can reduce the journey from Europe to Iran to 10 days,” said Bakhtadze during the meeting.

Deutche Bahn and Trans Eurasia Logistics are cooperating to launch a rail link to carry cargo from Europe to Georgia and Azerbaijan.

According to Hempel, the first train is expected to start the journey next year.

As for Iran, shipments will be carried by trucks, as rail links to Azerbaijan are yet to be completed.

Iran and Azerbaijan signed a memorandum of understanding in December on linking their rail networks through a project connecting Azerbaijan’s Astara city to a port city of the same name in Iran by the end of the next Iranian year (March 20, 2018).

Under the deal, Baku is to extend its railroads by 8 kilometers up to the border from where Iran needs to build 2 kilometers of railroads inside the country to Astara Port. The Astara-Astara route, along with other routes inside Iran, including Astara-Rasht and Rasht-Qazvin railroads, which will be jointly completed with the northern neighbor, are the missing rail links in INSTC.

In late August, ADY Express Company, a subsidiary of Azerbaijan Railways, started moving cargo via the pathway.

Three 40-foot universal containers loaded with electrical equipment and spare parts, shipped from the Indian city of Bangalore and passed through Iran, were received by the company in Astara district whereby they were carried to Orsino in Kaluzhskaya Oblast in Russia for the first time using INSTC.

The containers were delivered by sea from the Indian city of Mumbai to the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas, where they were sent to Astara by car and to Russia by rail.

From Iran’s perspective, the INSTC is deemed as the key to realize the country’s ambition to become a regional transit hub.

The government is working to facilitate rail transport with countries of Commonwealth of Independent States, including Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan.

Last week, Iran signed several agreements with those countries to reduce tariffs on the transportation of a few commodities and increase the amount of cargo transported via rail to and from Central Asia.

“We have held several bilateral and multilateral meetings with Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan and Tajikistan,” IRIR deputy head, Hossein Ashouri, was quoted as saying on Friday.

“We agreed to increase the transit of sulfur and fertilizers from Turkmenistan, wheat and steel from Kazakhstan and aluminum ingots from Tajikistan,” he added.

Senior officials from Iran, Turkey, Kazakhstan Tajikistan and Turkmenistan took part in a summit held in Tehran on Monday to promote rail freight transport between CIS nations and Turkey through Iran.

Moreover, IRIR recently reached transit agreements with Uzbekistan. In the last Iranian year (March 2015-16), 300,000 tons of cotton were transported from Uzbekistan to southern Iranian ports.

“Both countries have agreed to increase that amount to 350,000 tons this year,” Ashouri said.

Plans are also underway to transport 50,000 tons of aluminum from Tajikistan to southern ports, 15,000 tons of which have so far been materialized, he added.

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