Following a meeting between the railway directors of the three countries, President of the Russian Railways Gennady Fadeyev said that the construction of a railway that will link Russia, Azerbaijan and Iran will sharply reduce the cost price and delivery time on this promising transport corridor that will connect northern and central Europe with the Central Asia and Persian Gulf.
"The implementation of a project on a new railway line between Qazvin (Iran) and Astara (Azerbaijan) and further to Russia may start at the beginning of 2005," Fadeyev emphasized.
Fadeyev did not rule out the prospect of enlarging the consortium in future. India (a country that participates in the North-South International Transportation Corridor, Pakistan (after the Kerman-Zahedan line is completed), and the Persian Gulf countries may be invited to join the implementation of the project.
Fadeyev said a final decision on the participation of the sides in the consortium would be taken in one or one and a half months in Baku, where a regular meeting of the railway chiefs of Azerbaijan, Iran and Russia would be held.
In the coming months, a working group is to elaborate all matters related to the project.
For his part, Iranian Deputy Road and Transport Minister Mohammad Sa'idnejad, who also heads the railways agency of the country, believes that the new railway line will bring the freight traffic between Russia and Iran to eight million tons a year.
He said that the freight traffic between Moscow and Tehran was stopped in 1990 over the Karabakh conflict.
"About three million tons of cargo were earlier shipped yearly by rail between our countries," he indicated.
Meanwhile, the Qazvin-Rasht-Astara railway is part of the western route of the North-South International Transportation Corridor.
Fadeyev said, "The 350-km railway is to be built under the 177-million-dollar project to run across Azerbaijan towards the Iranian transportation junction of Qazvin.
"The internal Russian Yandyki-port Olya railway line (Astrakhan region) is expected to be connected with this key railway line of the international transportation corridor. Meanwhile, a motorway will also be built along the North-South International Transportation Corridor."
Fadeyev pointed out that the project is expected to justify itself in 4-5 years, even provided the annual freight traffic would amount to four million tons, although, in his view, the transportation would be 'greater than that'.
"This will be a highly effective project with steady transportation," Fadeyev said.
In view of this, one should not be afraid of risks, the Russian Railways president remarked.
Meanwhile, experts believe that compared to the current operating sea transportation Trans-Caspian line, Qazvin-Astara railway line will reduce the time of delivery by about 5-14 days.
... Payvand News - 5/21/04 ... --