EghtesadOnline: The new railroad connecting the two Iranian provinces of Qazvin and Gilan was tested on Thursday. The maiden journey started from the city of Siah Cheshmeh and ended in Rasht, the capital of Gilan Province.
Aboard the train were the head of Plan and Budget Organization, Mohammad Baqer Nobakht, Deputy Minister of Roads and Urban Development and CEO of the Construction and Development of Transportation Infrastructures Company Kheirollah Khademi, as well as several members of the Iranian Parliament.
The new route, known as "Qazvin-Rasht", will extend from the port city of Anzali to the border city of Astara. The Rasht-Astara stretch is a missing link in the International North-South Transit Corridor, according to Financial Tribune.
“Qazvin-Rasht railroad is important, as it helps complete the International North-South Transit Corridor. Some 18.5 trillion rials (more than $142.3 million) have gone into this 164-kilometer-long project so far, 13 trillion rials ($100 million) of which have been spent during the first and second terms of President Hassan Rouhani to complete the construction of 125 kilometers of the route,” Nobakht was quoted as saying by IRNA.
The official added that the project will be officially inaugurated by the president before the year is out.
“Though the completion of this project is a major step, it is not enough and we are pursuing a bigger goal, which is the completion of the under-construction 41-kilometer Rasht-Anzali Railroad Project … We need to connect the railroad to where cargo can be directly unloaded from ships onto train wagons. We need to allocate an annual budget to this project,” he said.
INSTC is a major transit route designed to facilitate the transportation of goods from Mumbai in India to Helsinki in Finland, using Iranian ports and railroads, which the Islamic Republic plans to connect to those of Azerbaijan and Russia.
The corridor 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 transported 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, and then on to Europe.
INSTC would substantially cut the travel time for everything from Asian consumer goods to Central Eurasia’s natural resources to advanced European exports.
The multimodal route is estimated to reduce the time and cost of transportation of goods between India and Europe from 40 to 15 days. The corridor has the potential of diverting up to 10 million tons of India-Europe trade to the route.
Azerbaijan agreed to extend a loan to Iran worth €500 million for completing INSTC section that leads from Iran to its border last year.
Azerbaijan’s Minister of Economy Shahin Mustafayev said on Friday that negotiations on the financing of this project are continuing.
“Azerbaijan had agreed to finance this project but you are all aware of the current international political scene. Therefore, we are still negotiating,” he added.
According to Khademi, when the Rasht-Astara railroad is completed, the cost of cargo transportation between Asia and Europe through INSTC will decrease by 30%.
Executive manager of the Construction and Development of Transportation Infrastructures Company, Makam Pedram, said the Qazvin-Rasht Railroad has the capacity to transport 3.38 million passengers and close to 10 million tons of cargos per year.
“Passenger trains and cargo trains can speed up to 160 kilometers per hour and 120 km/ph respectively on this railroad, which has 53 tunnels and 62 bridges, collectively stretching for 22 kilometers and 9 kilometers respectively,” he said.
More than 14 million cubic meters of embankment and 18 million cubic meters of excavation have been carried out for this project, more than 40% of which have been constructed on mountainous regions.
The construction of Qazvin-Rasht Railroad started in the fiscal 2005-06.