The efforts of Tehran and Baku in funding and speeding up the construction of the North-South corridor will strengthen the two countries’ economies, says Iranian Ambassador to Azerbaijan Mohsen Pak Ayeen.
This week’s bricklaying of the Astara-Rasht railway marked a turning point in regional and international transportation, the ambassador wrote on his personal weblog April 23.
The groundbreaking ceremony for the railroad bridge over the Astara River on the Azerbaijani-Iranian border was held on Apr.20.
The railroad bridge over the Astara River is a strategically important facility that will connect the railways of Azerbaijan and Iran. The bridge’s construction is planned to be completed by late 2016.
The ambassador wrote that the construction of the railroad is a timely response to oil and gas exporting countries’ efforts to diversify their incomes by resorting to transportation services.
The North-South corridor will turn into a connecting line for a lot of nations from India to Helsinki along 2,500 kilometers of railroad, he stressed.
The corridor is estimated to transfer 3 million tons of goods and 200,000 people in the first year after construction, and then to be able to facilitate the transfer of 4 million tons of goods and 500,000 people annually.
The diplomat also said that part of the railroad that stretches from Iran’s Rasht to Astara will nevertheless help as part of the East-West Corridor to transfer goods and people from Shanghai to Europe.
“Right now, millions of tons of goods are being transferred from India and European countries to Caucasus in 60 days. But once the North-South corridor is operational, the time will shrink to 14 or even 10 days,” he said.
The ambassador underlined that Azerbaijan will complete the remaining eight kilometers of railroad to the Astara River by the year’s end.
“Also, a rail bridge will connect Iran and Azerbaijan over the river. Azerbaijan and Iran, as well as third countries have provided the budget needed to stretch another 165 kilometers of rail from Rasht to Astara,” he added.