EghtesadOnline: The Astara (Iran)–Astara (Azerbaijan) Railroad connecting the two countries’ rail networks is scheduled to be launched soon.
Director general of International Affairs Office with the Islamic Republic of Iran Railways, Abbas Nazari, said the rail connection will become operational on Dec. 25.
For Iran, launching the cross-border corridor is one of the milestones in terms of implementing several projects aimed at turning Iran into a transit country between Asia and Europe. The corridor can rightfully be called one of the most essential foreign rail links, giving Iran an overland access to North Russia and Northern Europe, according to an article published by Trend news agency. Below is the full text:
Construction activities for the 10-km rail corridor began in 2016. The line begins in Azerbaijan at a distance of 8.3 km from the state border with Iran and then extends 1.4 km to Iran’s Astara. The whole work also includes the construction of a bridge on Astarachay River that stretches along the border, Financial Tribune reported.
Azerbaijan invested about $60 million for the construction of the rail corridor connecting two homonymous cities, as well as in the construction of a train station and cargo terminals in Iran.
In total, four terminals should be built for the cargo storage—container, general cargo, oil and grain. In the first stage, it is planned to launch two terminals: container and general cargo.
It is planned that Azerbaijan will have the right to operate the Astara-Astara line and a train station in Iran’s Astara for 15 years as well as the terminals located in Iran’s Astara, for 25 years.
Azerbaijan has also agreed to annually transit up to 2 million tons of freight through the corridor.
In November, an agreement was reached to send a container train from Iran’s Astara to Vorsino station near Moscow, once the construction of the rail corridor is completed.
However, the significance of the short cross-border rail line is not limited by forecasted mutual growth of trade between Iran and Azerbaijan. It is a part of a greater 7,200-km trade route from India to Finland (port Helsinki).
After launching the Astara-Astara cross-border line, the construction of the 165-km-long Astara-Rasht segment on the territory of Iran will remain the only missing link of the whole North-South project. Azerbaijan has allocated a $500-million loan to Iran for purchasing plots of land and construction activities, which are planned to be completed by 2020.
When goods from India travel to Europe by the traditional sea route via Suez and Mediterranean and up to the North Sea in 45 days, the North-South route via Iran will be halved.truction activities for the 10-km Astara-Astara rail corridor began in 2016.