Iran’s Rasht-Astara Railway To Provide The Key Link In The INSTC

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Shahid Rajaee Port

The Rasht-Astara railway line running between the southern Iranian Port at Shahid Rajaee (part of the Bandar Abbas complex) north to the Rasht Port on the Caspian Sea will provide full rail connectivity between the Gulf and Europe.

It will “Allow the activation of the International North-South Transport Corridor” (INSTC), Iranian Minister of Roads and Urban Development Rostam Ghasemi has stated.

According to Ghasemi, after the construction of the railway, the Iranian railway will be linked to the Azerbaijani railway.

“Iran’s goal is to connect to the Caucasus, Russia, and European countries. For this purpose, the construction of the Rasht-Astara railway is in the spotlight. During the Iranian president’s visit to Russia, discussions were conducted in this regard, and construction of the railway line is expected to begin soon with the allocation of needed funds,” he said.

The foundation of the ‘North-South Transport Corridor’ was laid on the basis of an intergovernmental agreement signed between Russia, Iran, and India on September 12, 2000.

In total, 13 countries have ratified the agreement, including Belarus, Ukraine, Russia, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Turkey, Syria, Iran, Oman, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan. Bulgaria is an observer nation.

The purpose of creating a corridor is to reduce the delivery time of cargo from India to Russia, as well as to North and West Europe. Delivery time on the current route is more than 6 weeks, it is expected to be reduced to 3 weeks via North-South Transport Corridor.

The 175 km long Qazvin-Rasht railway was officially put into operation on March 6, 2019, to connect Azerbaijani railways with the Iranian railway network within the corridor, which will link with the Rasht-Astara railway. In total, US$2 billion is estimated to be spent on the construction of the Rasht-Astara railway line with completion expected in 2025.

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Chris Devonshire-Ellis is the Chairman of Dezan Shira & Associates. The firm assists British and Foreign Investment into Asia and has 28 offices throughout China, India, the ASEAN nations and Russia. For strategic and business intelligence concerning China’s Belt & Road Initiative please email silkroad@dezshira.com or visit us at www.dezshira.com

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