Iran, Azerbaijan to Fund Rasht-Astra Railroad Project
Monday 22 January 2018
The Rasht-Astra Railroad project will be launched this year by joint financing of Iran and Azerbaijan each providing 50% of the required finances.
According to Deputy Minister of Roads and Urban Development Asghar Fakhrieh-Kashan, Azerbaijan will fund $500 million as a loan and Iran will invest the same amount in the project.
Fakhrieh-Kashan noted that when the Rasht-Astra Railroad becomes operational, a main section of the International North-South Transport Corridor will be completed and cargo can be transited from India and China to Central Asia, Azerbaijan, Russia and Europe through Iran.
The two countries, within the International North-South Transport Corridor [a multi-model route to link India and the Middle East to the Caucasus, Central Asia and Europe], are making efforts to connect their railways through the Qazvin-Rasht-Astara route, connecting Iran’s northern city of Astara to Astara in Azerbaijan. The railroad connecting Iran’s northwestern city of Astara to the eponymous Azerbaijani city has been newly completed.
Qazvin-Rasht is another missing link in INSTC. When completed, INSTC is expected to increase the volume of commodities currently traded between Iran and Azerbaijan. According to Fakhrieh-Kashan, "currently, Iran's Government is preparing the rail route to join Qazvin-Rasht and it is expected to be operational in 3 months".
The INSTC project is a major transit route designed to facilitate the transportation of goods from Mumbai in India to Helsinki in Finland, using Iranian ports and railroads, which the Islamic Republic plans to connect to those of Azerbaijan and Russia.