Iran, Azerbaijan, Russia to Discuss Railway Feasibility Report

A03265388.jpgTEHRAN (FNA)- Workgroups from Iran, Azerbaijan and Russia are due to convene in a meeting in Saint Petersburg from 17 to 19 November to discuss a feasibility study over the North-South railway, which is due to link Russia to Iran via Azerbaijan.

The session, which follows a regular meeting of experts in Baku in June 2008, is due to focus on the final version of the feasibility study.

The basic agreement and the charter of a joint venture by Iran, Azerbaijan and Russia for the construction of Qazvin-Rasht-Astara (located in northern Iran) route will be under discussion as well.

The three countries’ next joint venture projects will be in Russia and operate on the basis of the Russian legislation, but Iran, Russia, and Azerbaijan will own equal equity stakes in them.

Bobreshov claimed that until November RRC would complete making the project feasibility study.

“In the first half of November the project workgroup will be in session and there the parties will be presented the final feasibility study. After its approval there will be discussions over project financing, its cost and realization terms,” Bobreshov said.

The major volume of construction works will be fulfilled on the Iranian territory.

An 8.4km-long railway between the Iranian and Azeri Astara cities is due to be constructed by the three sides in a bid to link the Iranian and Azeri railways.

The project also includes building of four railway tracks with length of 1,050 km each in Azerbaijan: two railway tracks will be laid first and the other two will be built once cargo transiting grows. Moreover, a special branch track for wagons and a 101m railway bridge across the Astarachay River will also be constructed.

In early stages cargo transportation via this route will make up roughly 5-7 million tons with a following growth of up to 15-20 million tons. The government in Baku has estimated that Azerbaijan State Budget revenues from cargo carriages via Russia-Azerbaijan-Iran railway corridor will total AZN 30-40 million annually.

In August 2004 the three sides signed a Memorandum on creation of a joint stock company on the construction and operation of Qazvin-Rasht-Anzali-Astara railway line with original charter capital of $6 million (by $2 million by each country). Under Iranian experts’ estimates, cost of Rasht-Anzali segment will need $600 million while Anzali-Astara will require $200 million of investment.

Iran and Azerbaijan signed the Border Railway Agreement earlier.

Creation of the North-South corridor facilitates transit of cargo in the Asian-Pacific and Persian Gulf regions. Dispatch of cargo via this railway route will be 10-15% cheaper and will save 20 days of time compared to the Suez Canal.

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