Iran’s Rasht-Caspian INSTC Railway Makes Progress

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Construction work has been completed on the first 11 km of the 35 km stretch of the Rasht-Caspian railway line in Iran’s northern Gilan Province, according to Abbas Khatibi, the Deputy Director of the Construction and Development of Transportation Infrastructures Company (CDTIC).

The route is a vital part of the INSTC connectivity network that has become increasingly important in the wake of the closure of Russia’s border to the EU and railway routes from China to Europe being blocked off. The INSTC permits maritime from Asia to transit Iran where it can then be loaded onto container ships at the Caspian sea ports and moved via Azerbaijan, Turkey and Georgia to connections with the southern EU. The route, when fully operational, will be faster, more secure and less expensive than the current Suez canal route from Asia to Europe. The Rasht-Caspian Railway shortens the time of freight transport from Asia to the EU by four weeks.

The remaining 24 km should be completed in 2023. Delays have occurred due to difficult terrain and land compensation issues – part of the Rasht-Caspian railway passes through agricultural lands and marsh areas, causing construction delays. However, in terms of the entire route, and infrastructure connections and support to it, about 70% of the expected work has already been completed.

The route has a price tag of some 6.5 trillion rials (about US$155 million) has been allocated for the construction of the Rasht-Caspian railway.

Khatibi pointed out that the railway will facilitate the establishment of a link between the Caspian Sea and the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman, as well as the transportation of goods from East Asia to Europe and vice-versa.

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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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