Russia stresses commitment to completing Rasht-Astara railway

Minister of Transport of the Russian Federation Roman Vladimirovich has stressed the importance of Iran’s Rasht-Astara railway as the missing link of the International North-South Transit Corridor saying that Russia is committed to completing the project.

 

“The work with Iran regarding the implementation of the Moscow-Tehran agreement continues in this regard, and we believe that the implementation of this project will increase rail traffic in the region,” the minister said in a specialized meeting on the sidelines of the 27th Saint Petersburg International Economic Forum.

According to the official, Russia has already signed memorandums of understanding in the field of transportation and transit within the framework of the INSTC from 2022 to 2024 with Iran, Turkmenistan, and Bahrain and is seeking to reach an agreement with other countries.

Back in April, Deputy Minister of Russian Railways Sergey Pavlov and Iran’s Ambassador to Russia Kazem Jalali met to discuss the implementation of Rasht-Astara railway project.

In that meeting, the two sides stressed that Tehran and Moscow are finalizing the draft of a contract for the implementation of the agreement to construct the mentioned railway.

Iran and Russia, both under harsh Western sanctions, on May 17 inked an agreement on the long-stalled construction of a railway connecting the northern Iranian cities of Rasht and Astara.

Spanning 162 km (100.6 miles), the railway is a crucial element of the INSTC. The corridor integrates road, rail, and sea transportation, facilitating the movement of goods between Russia and India via Iran.

Through a video conference, late Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin addressed the ceremony in Tehran where the two countries' transport ministers signed the agreement.

According to this agreement, the Russian Federation will invest 1.6 billion euros in this railway route.

Iran has been a key player in the INSTC and stands to benefit greatly from its full realization. As reported by Amwaj media, the Raisi government has seemingly banked significantly on transit becoming a top revenue generator. But Iran stands to gain from the project in more ways.

The operationalization of the corridor could mean improved relations between Iran and India, aligning New Delhi more closely with Tehran’s regional interests.

A vital element of the INSTC, the Rasht-Astara railway project has been stalled for years due to costs, engineering, and logistical complications.

Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei stressed the importance of completing the stretch of the railway in his July 2022 meeting with Putin in Tehran.

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