EghtesadOnline: The construction of the Rasht-Astara railroad within the framework of the International North–South Transport Corridor project will start in the first half of 2018, the head of Azerbaijan Railways CJSC, told reporters in Baku on Wednesday.
Javid Gurbanov added that Azerbaijan has already allocated a loan worth $500 million to Iran and the loan agreement was initialed by both countries. “It (the agreement) has been sent to the relevant ministries and structures of both countries,” Gurbanov was quoted as saying by Trend News Agency. “The opening of the 164-kilometer section is planned for 2020 and at that time, we will be able to go from Baku to Nakhichevan by train.” Gurbanov conditionally divided the International North–South Transport Corridor project into two phases. “The construction of the Astara-Rasht branch is the second phase of the project,” he said. “The (Azerbaijan’s)Astara-(Iran’s)Astara railroad, including a 1.4-kilometer line, a terminal for transshipment of dry cargo and a passenger station on the Iranian side within the first phase will be fully ready at the end of December 2017.” INSTC is meant to connect Northern Europe with Southeast Asia and serve as a link connecting the railroads of Azerbaijan, Iran and Russia. At the initial stage, it is planned to transport 6 million tons of cargo per year through the corridor and 15-20 million tons of cargo in the future, according to Financial Tribune.