EghtesadOnline: The Islamic Republic of Iran Railways said Azerbaijan will provide Iran with €500 million worth of loan for completing the Rasht-Astara rail segment as part of the International North-South Transportation Corridor.
“Keeping in mind the mutual benefits of the Rasht-Astara railroad for the two countries, the government of Azerbaijan has agreed to finance the project,” Nourollah Beiranvand, the deputy for planning and investment at RAI told Azerbaijan’s news agency Trend.
He dismissed recent rumors that suggested Baku would fully finance the Rasht-Astara segment.
Beiranvand said half of the required amount for completing the rail section will be provided by Azerbaijan and Iran is expected to provide the second half, Financial Tribune reported.
“The finance will come in the form of loan,” Beiranvand said, adding that the invested sum will be later subtracted from the revenues of the project.
Astara Train Station
Beiranvand further said the Azerbaijani side has agreed to invest in the building of Astara Train Station and cargo terminals.
Azerbaijani officials had earlier agreed to provide €60 million for developing rail facilities in the Iranian city of Astara (an eponymous city from across the border in Azerbaijan).
According to the official, about half of this amount is projected to finance the construction of a 1.4-kilometer-long railroad in Astara as well as the train station building.
“The remaining half will go for the construction of four terminals of fueling, general cargo, grain and containers,” he said.
To complete the rail links of the transportation corridor, Iran had earlier agreed to construct inland railroad segments in northern parts of the country in order to extend its rail network to the border area with the neighboring Azerbaijan through the two Astara cities on both sides.
The initial plan included Qazvin-Rasht and Rasht-Astara railroad segments.
In the meantime, Azerbaijan has launched a construction project to extend its railroad into Iran’s territory, which is going through the final tests and will be implemented soon.
Director of Technical and Infrastructural Department Maziar Yazdani said in June that the terminal would become operational in “two months”. However, the project still remains unfinished.
On September 18, Jabbar Ali Zakeri, the railroad development manager at Construction and Development of Transportation Infrastructures Company, said his organization still needs two months to complete Rasht-Qazvin segment.
Citing lack of funding as the most serious problem, Zakeri said technical problems and lack of a certain type of steel shield to be used in securing parts of the railroad also worked against the timely accomplishment of the projects.
The International North-South Transport Corridor is meant to connect Northern Europe with Southeast Asia. It will serve as a link connecting the railroads of Azerbaijan, Iran and Russia.
The corridor is planned to transport 6 million tons of cargo per year at the initial stage and 15-20 million tons of cargo in the future.