(Persia Digest) – The Director for the Office of International Affairs of the Islamic Republic of Iran Railways has announced trilateral negotiations between Iran, Azerbaijan, and Russia to launch the Astara-Moscow cargo train.
Following a meeting between the border officials and rail transport authorities of Iran and the Republic of Azerbaijan in Espinas Hotel in Astara, Abbas Nazari told reporters: “Strategic projects have been defined between the railway authorities of the two countries over the past year.”
The North-South corridor is one of these projects where we needed to put down rail tracks. Talks were conducted to connect the two cities of Astara across the border, an MoU was signed, and we will soon witness a cargo train traveling between the two countries to Astara docks.”
Nazari stated that this train trajectory will be inaugurated by the presidents of the two countries of Iran and Azerbaijan in March, and reiterated: “The nonstop efforts of numerous organizations and very positive interactions at top levels between presidents and minister members of mutual commissions have made this endeavor possible.”
He pointed out to other railway projects in the country, and said: “The South-West corridor connecting the Black Sea to the Persian Gulf is another mega project which has previously connected European countries through the Poland, Ukraine, Georgia, Azerbaijan, and Iran route to the Persian Gulf and Indian subcontinent. All the financial and technical aspects of the project have already been completed.”
He pointed out to the success of the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement with world powers, officially known as the JCPOA, in creating the willingness among European nations to use this corridor for transporting their cargo, and said: “The Republic of Azerbaijan will invest an estimated USD 60MM in the Iranian Astara terminal and USD 500MM in the Astara-Rasht route.
He concluded by saying a cargo train carrying MDF has left St Petersburgh in Russia and is presently in Baku. It will soon enter Iranian territory, and added: “This is a practice run for the cargo train and aims to resolve teething problems by docking in Astara.