Economy, Business And Markets

Move to Complete North-South Corridor

Move to Complete  North-South Corridor
Move to Complete  North-South Corridor

Officials from Iran, Russia and Azerbaijan have agreed to complete railway projects that will eventually help connect traders across the three nations.

The Iranian side should complete a 205-kilometer railway, which connects Qazvin to northern cities of Rasht, Anzali, and Astara – a port city bordering with Azerbaijan, according Abbas Akhoundi, minister of roads and urban development.

In a joint meeting with Azeri Minister of Economy and Industry Shahin Mustafayev in Tehran, Akhoundi said that the railway will become operational in early 2015, IRNA reported.

The railway project is an integral part of the International North–South Transport Corridor – which is the ship, rail, and road route for moving freight from India to Europe through Central Asia, the Caucasus, and Russia. The route primarily involves moving freight from India to Iran by ship; from Iran to Armenia and Georgia by rail and road; and from Georgia to Russia and Europe.

Six Iranian companies are involved in the project, officials said. The Qazvin-Rasht-Astara railway construction is 82% complete, according to FNA. Work has just begun to construct the Anzali-Astara part of the railway.

Some 22 tunnels and 15 bridges will be built as part of the railway construction project. Fifteen tunnels have already been constructed on the way.

In the meeting, Mustafayev asserted that his country seeks to play an influential role in connecting Russia to southern parts of Iran to guarantee benefits for all the three nations.

 Two Solutions

The construction of Qazvin-Astara railway will take “quite a long time,” Akhoundi said, putting forward two solutions to ease transportation. “First, it’s possible to unload freight trains from Azerbaijan at the Astara terminal, which requires Azeri officials to extend their railway at least 8 kilometers closer to the Iranian border. The freight will be then carried to Qazvin by trucks and transported by rail to southern port city of Bandar Abbas.”

Second, he said, “It seems practical to establish the 40-kilometer Rasht-Anzali railway. In that case, Azeri cargos will primarily be shipped to the Anzali port and then to Bandar Abbas port by train.”

Akhoundi said, the shipping lines between Baku and Anzali as well as Baku and northern port of Amirabad will become operational in the near future.

Earlier this week, Mustafayev headed a top-ranking delegation on a three-day visit to Tehran to pursue the implementation of the agreements, reached by the 9th Iran-Azerbaijan Joint Economic Cooperation Commission in Baku last month.

Iran has recently announced its intention to replace Europe at the Russian market following Moscow’s ban on food imports from the European Union, United States, Norway, Canada and Australia.

The Azeri delegation also met Iranian officials, including agriculture minister Mahmoud Hojati, who is set to head a delegation to Azerbaijan soon to study further mutual cooperation.