Azerbaijan to help Iran to find funds for railway construction
By Nigar Orujova
Azerbaijan and Iran agreed on a joint search to fund the construction of the 153 km long Rasht-Astara railway, says Javid Gurbanov, the head of Azerbaijani Railways Company.
“There is no road project yet. The Iranian side has planned its construction, and we agreed on joint fundraising for these purposes,” he said.
Gurbanov said that first, it is planned to connect the railways of Azerbaijan and Iran, as part of the North-South project.
The first phase of construction includes the Astara (Iran)–Astara (Azerbaijan) railway line and the joint construction of a border bridge.
“The length of the Iranian section of the Astara–Astara railway line is two kilometers, and according to the contract, it will be constructed by the Iranian side. The length of the Azerbaijani part of the road is more than eight kilometers and it will be constructed by our side. It is also planned to build a 100-meter long railway bridge. We have already identified the construction site of the bridge and made a special markup,” said Gurbanov.
The company head noted that this project could bring big profits to Azerbaijan, and so its implementation is a major priority.
“The North-South International Transport Corridor was unfairly left without due attention for long time. This corridor will connect Iran, Afghanistan and the countries of the Gulf region via Azerbaijan to Europe and significantly increase the income of our country. Therefore, it is very important to develop this route,” he stressed.
The North-South railway will connect Northern Europe to South-East Asia. It will serve as a bridge to connect the railways of Iran, Azerbaijan and Russia.
This project envisages the creation of a border railway bridge between Iranian Astara and Azerbaijani Astara, as well as laying an 8-kilometer-long segment on Azerbaijani territory.
The railway’s capacity will stand at 1.4 million passengers and 5-7 million metric tons of cargo per year, according to preliminary estimates. As many as 22 tunnels and 15 bridges will be built along the railway.
The volume of cargo transportation through the corridor will amount to 6 million metric tons at the initial stage and will reach 15-20 million metric tons in the future.
A Memorandum of Understanding was signed during a joint meeting of the Economic Committee of Iran and Azerbaijan in Tehran this October. According to the MoU, Azerbaijan and Iran would construct a railway to carry a capacity of 5 million tons of goods.
Earlier, Javid Gurbanov said that despite the shortest route to St. Petersburg, Helsinki, Berlin, many cities of the Russian Federation, etc., passing through Azerbaijan and Iran, almost all cargo passes around us. That deprives both the railways of Iran and Azerbaijan from profits.
He noted that the volume of freight transportation between Europe and India is 25 million tons a year, six million tons between Russia and Iran, and 30-40 million tons between the Gulf states and Europe.
It is expected that the railway lines of Azerbaijan and Iran will be linked before late 2016.
Meanwhile, the Iran-Afghanistan railway will be inaugurated by the end of the current Iranian fiscal year (March 2016).
Today, Azerbaijan and Iran are focused on expanding economic ties in various fields, including industry, agriculture, energy, alternative energy, and transportation.
Iran's export to Azerbaijan during the first half of 2015 decreased 55.36 percent to $42.52 million year-on-year. Azerbaijan's export to Iran also decreased 67.11 percent to $11.16 million during that period.
Nigar Orujova is AzerNews’s staff journalist, follow her on Twitter: @o_nigar
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