By Ofeliya Afandiyeva
Azerbaijan and its southern neighbor Iran will build Rasht-Astara (Iran) - Astara (Azerbaijan) railway line in the near future as part of the North–South Transport Corridor.
This was stated during the 4th meeting of the Working Group on the development of the North-South Western route of the International Transport Corridor held in Baku recently.
The meeting was attended by representatives of Azerbaijan, Russia, Belarus, Iran Railways and Indian Concor – Container Corporation, the official website of Azerbaijan Railways CJSC reported.
Chairman of the “Azerbaijan Railways“ CJSC Javid Gurbanov said during the meeting that within the framework of the project, Azerbaijan has fulfilled its obligations.
Thus, from Astara station to the state border of Iran, 8.3 kilometers of railway tracks have been laid and a railway bridge over the Astara River has been built. At the same time, the construction of a railway station on 35 hectares and terminals for unloading cargo continues in Astara (Iran).
In March 2018, the first phase of the project to connect the Astara — Astara railway and the freight terminal was commissioned, and the foundation of the grain terminal was laid. And on the sixth of March this year, the opening of the section Gazvin-Rasht-Astara (Iran) — Astara (Azerbaijan), which is the main part of the International Transport Corridor “North-South” was inaugurated.
In the near future, the Rasht-Astara (Iran) — Astara (Azerbaijan) railway line will be built and put into operation, that will further strengthen the transport and transit, trade and economic potential of our countries, Gurbanov said.
Gurbanov also said that the main objective of the North-South Transport Corridor is, first of all, to reduce the delivery time of goods transported from Russia, Northern and Western Europe, as well as the Persian Gulf countries, to reduce transportation prices and increase the functionality of the corridor.
He reminded that the first agreement on the North-South Transport Corridor was signed on September 12, 2000 in Saint-Petersburg. Azerbaijan joined the agreement five years later — in 2005. In the following years, totally 13 States signed and ratified the agreement.
Delivery time on the current route (Suez canal) is 45-60 days, and the North-South transport corridor is expected to reduce this period to 14-20 days.
Speaking about the historical roots and modern development of friendly relations between participant countries, Gurbanov noted the economic importance of this corridor, which brings together different geographical areas.
Deputy general director of “Russian Railways” OJSC Vyacheslav Pavlovsky drew attention to the environmental efficiency of the railway. He noted that the work on strengthening cooperation in the field of railways will continue in the future.
During the two-days meeting, the participants of the working group discussed the development and optimization of cargo transportation on the route India-Iran-Azerbaijan-Russia-Belarus-Europe. The sides analyzed the information on the existing cargoes coming from India to Azerbaijan, Russia, Belarus and the EU countries and discussed the possibility of their attraction to the North-South route.
It was noted that the volume of cargo passing through the Astara terminal is growing and compared to the same period last year, the daily volume of cargo transshipment increased by 30 percent.
At the meeting, it was emphasized that the transportation of goods from Iran to Belarus through the International Transport Corridor North-South started in November 2019. The sides also discussed the establishment of regular sea traffic between the ports of India and Iran, and the conduct of marketing research, and the creation of a single operator for cargo transportation.
The meeting was also attended by first Deputy Chairman of the Belarusian Railway Igor Shilov, Vice-President of the Iranian Railways Morteza Jafari, Chairman, managing Director of the Indian Container Corporation (Concor) Kalyana Rama.
At the end of the meeting, a protocol was signed among sides.
North–South Transport Corridor is a network of ship, rail, and road route for moving freight between India, Iran, Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Russia, Central Asia and Europe.
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