Iran to unlock a new rail route on Russia-India corridor

Photo: Wikimedia Commons. Wiki9876ad

Iran is about to complete the construction of a railway section on the Russia-India route. The new section will connect the Iranian Caspian seaport city Bandar Anzali and Rasht. The line is expected to be inaugurated in July. 

In two months, the port city of Bandar Anzali will be able to offer rail services for cargo transit via the Caspian Sea. This was disclosed by Kheirollah Khademi, head of the Construction and Development of Transportation Infrastructure Company of Iran, to Iranian media. Last August, about one-third of the railway line connecting Rasht and Bandar Anzali in Iran was finished, 11 out of 35 kilometres were already in place in 2022.

The completion of this new line will become another option for Russia, Central Asia and Iran in the logistic puzzles connecting the countries.

Alternative routes

Russia currently prefers the Caspian Sea route as an alternative to access Iran, making the completion of the Rasht-Bandar Anzali railway line ideal for connecting cargo to the Iranian railway network more efficiently.

The Rasht-Bandar Anzali railway line. Photo: GoogleMaps

However, to avoid the turbulence at sea, Russia has also developed rail routes connecting St. Petersburg and Mumbai via Turkmenistan, a much more time-consuming route compared to transit through Azerbaijan once the Rasht-Astara railway is completed.

By finishing the Rasht-Astara railway, Iran could further expand its transit potential. At least Iran’s First Vice President, Mohammad Mokhber, thinks so. In a comment to Iranian media, he stressed that Iran is already taking crucial steps to facilitate developments in the INSTC. “The transit capacity of the country has increased to 20 million tons, and with proper planning and appropriate measures, transiting 300 million tons of commodities per year can be achieved”, he said.

In a recent development, Alexander Novak, Deputy Prime Minister of Russia, told the media that Russia and Iran are likely to sign an agreement completing the Rasht-Astara railway in May. The completion of this railway section has been postponed multiple times, with the latest delivery deadline being mid-2023.

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Author: Chengfan Zhao

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