Iran calls for fast completion International North–South Transport Corridor
Iranian Railways (RAI) has called for faster completion of the International North–South Transport Corridor (INSTC), a 7,200 kilometer-long freight route connecting India, Iran, Azerbaijan and Russia via ship, rail and road. The missing link is the railway line connecting Astara in Azerbaijan and Qazvin in Iran.
“Completion of the North-South Corridor leads to the development of rail transport between Iran, the Republic of Azerbaijan and Russia”, said Saeid Mohammad Zadeh, CEO of RAI during a meeting with his Azerbaijani counterpart in Baku.
Works on the vital link include the construction of the Astara-Astara line, which connects Azerbaijan and Iran, and two Iranian railway lines, connecting Astara with Rasht and Rasht with Qazvin. Once completed, the Rasht-Astara line will connect to the existing Iranian network, with Bandar Abbas as its important sea port terminal and, in the north, to the network of Azerbaijan, with railway hubs in Astrakhan and Baku.
According to the latest outline, the Astara-Astara line was to be completed in February this year. However, the railway between the two cities of the same name is still under construction. The progress was one of the topics of discussion during the meeting, which also touched upon the construction of the Astara Freight Terminal.
Javeed Ghorbanov the CEO of Azerbaijan Railways said: “The agreement for constructing and operating the Astara Freight Terminal between Iran and Azerbaijan has been signed. We have been granted the right from Iran to let the terminal for 25 years, and the Astara-Astara railway line for 15 years. Both parties re-affirmed their commitment to the completion of the nort-south axis.
The Astara-Qazvin line forms an integral part of the International North–South Transport Corridor (INSTC), as it will reduce journey times between Mumbai and Moscou from forty to fourteen days. Test runs have already been carried out, while a dry run was conducted last year. It is anticipated that in the future ten million tonnes of freight will be transported within the network.
Apart from constructing the missing link, parties involved aim to apply competitive tariffs in order to support growth on the corridor. Moreover, up-to-date transport services and simplified customs clearance of cargoes must be realised, the Iranian and Azerbaijani rail companies have agreed. The main objective of the INSTC is to provide an alternative to the traditional routes carried out by sea through the Suez Canal and the Mediterranean and the Baltic Sea. A south-west offshoot is also under consideration, connecting Iran, Azerbaijan, the Black Sea and Europe.