By Leman Mammadova
Connecting Iran to the Caucasus, the Qazvin-Rasht railway is an important part of the railway for the transportation from Iran to Russia via Azerbaijan.
Today, the first trial train of the Qazvin-Rasht railway was launched.
The Qazvin-Rasht railway will handle around 2.5 million passengers annually, the Deputy Governor for Development Affairs of Qazvin province, Ali Farrokhzad told Trend.
He added that the railway will transport 7-7.5 million tons of cargo per year.
The aim is to connect this railway to the free zone and link the country to its neighbors, including Azerbaijan, Mohammad Sadegh Hassani, a parliament member representing the northern city of Rasht, told Trend.
"The railway track is mainly designed to conduct cargo transfer but unfortunately, after several years of effort, we were only able to open the railroad to Rasht,” he added.
He noted that opening ceremony of the railway will be held by President Rouhani two months later.
Its main purpose is to connect the railway to Anzali and Astara, and to neighboring countries, he added.
“If Anzali –Astara railroad does not reach the operating stage, there would not be any justification for the costs of the current project. Unfortunately due to several problems we could not finish the project. After trial run the track will be continued to Anzali and Astara," he added.
Qazvin –Rasht railway is opening in trial today and the main opening ceremony will be done in two months by the president, he stated.
Describing the Anzali-Astara railway, the MP noted that the necessary contracts of Anzali – Astara track have been signed with the contractors. The process of this railway will start soon and will succeed."
"We cannot predict the time line for the final launch of this railway ", he added.
"As far as I know the contractors are Iranians", the official said noting that he would also be present at the trial run opening.
The governor of Gilan province, Mostafa Salari informed that 3.8 million passengers and 10 million tons of cargo will be exchanged annually after completion of the route from Rasht to Anzali and Rasht to Astara.
Speaking on the construction of the Rasht-Astara railway he added that the plan is time-consuming and cost-effective, and its credit is provided, and its operations will begin this year.
The Qazvin-Rasht railway is 164 km long, and is further connected to Anzali and Astara. Construction of the Rasht-Qazvin Railway Project has been started in 2006.
The Qazvin-Rasht-Astara railway is part of the North-South Transport Corridor to connect Northern Europe and South Asia, including the railways of Azerbaijan, Iran and Russia.
The railway between Astara regions of Azerbaijan and Iran has been already completed. The construction of the Rasht-Astara railway will be completed in two years. Azerbaijan has provided $ 500 million in preferential loans to Iran for the construction of this road.
Number of tourists is expected to increase after the launch of the Rasht-Qazvin railway. It will also allow expanding trade relations in the region.
The Iranian side views the railway as a huge oil well.
The North-South transport corridor was established in 2000 within the Intergovernmental Agreement between Russia, Iran and India. The main purpose of the agreement is to increase the efficiency of transport communications in the organization of freight and passenger transportation, to create conditions for member states to enjoy the international rail, automobile, sea, river and air transport services, to assist in increasing the volume of international transportations.
In total, 13 countries have ratified the Agreement. Azerbaijan joined this Agreement in 2005. The project envisages connecting India with the Middle East and the Caucasus, Central Asia and Europe.
The purpose of the corridor is to reduce the delivery time to 3 weeks from India to Russia, as well as to North and Western Europe as the current route route is more than 6 weeks.
The expected volume of cargo on the corridor passing through the territory of Azerbaijan is 3 million tons at the first, 5-8 million tons at the second and 15 million tons at the third stage.
Whenever all roads of the railway are fully completed, the non-oil sector of the economy will develop further, as well as the transit incomes, which will increase the living conditions of the population by ensuring the employment of the population.
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