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EghtesadOnline: The railroads of Iran and Azerbaijan will be connected in a month, according to Minister of Communications and Information Technology Mahmoud Vaezi.

The two country’s rail networks will be linked via a 10-km route connecting the Caspian port city of Astara to an Azerbaijani city with the same name.

Vaezi, who is also the co-chairman of the joint economic commission with the neighboring state, said the railroads of Astara will be connected to Azerbaijan and Russia in about a month, IRNA reported on Saturday.

“This way transportation will become extremely cheap,” he added.

The so-called Astara-Astara railroad runs 8 kilometers in Azerbaijan up to the common border from where it extends 2 km into the Iranian soil. The project includes a bridge on Astarachay River that stretches along the border, according to Financial Tribune.

“Around 8.5 kilometers of the 10-km railroad, including the Astarachay Bridge, have been completed,” Islamic Republic of Iran Railway official, Abbas Nazari, was quoted as saying late December.

He said the incomplete part lies in the Iranian section of the project, which has made 40% progress in infrastructure construction.

The Astara-Astara project is part of a major global transit route called International North-South Transportation Corridor, which is meant to connect Northern Europe with Southeast Asia.

Soon after the border project is complete, Tehran and Baku will start working on its extension to the city of Rasht in northern Gilan Province.

Azerbaijan has agreed to invest $500 million to build the railroad that is one of the main rail links in INSTC.

Another missing link is a route from Qazvin to Rasht, which is expected to be completed in a few months.

“Rail tracks for 86 kilometers of the line have been laid and the remaining 60 km are ready for track-laying,” deputy minister of roads and urban development, Kheirollah Khademi, said earlier.

The route includes Iran’s biggest rail bridge with a length of 1.43 km on the river of Sefidroud in the city of Manjil, in Gilan.

According to Khademi, it has been designed and implemented by domestic engineers and will be completed in a few days.

The INSTC 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 proceeding toward 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.

Mahmoud Vaezi Iran-Azerbaijan rail