Realization of ‘North-South’ project
It has been almost three months since presidents of Russia, Iran and Azerbaijan, Vladimir Putin, Hassan Rouhani and Ilham Aliyev discussed the prospects of ‘North-South’ transport corridor at a meeting in Baku. The interstate agreement on this corridor was signed by Russia, Iran and India on September 12th 2000 in St. Petersburg during the 2nd Eurasian transport conference. Azerbaijan joined the project later - on September 20th 2005. An expert of the marketing and business development department of the ADY Espress, Farid Kerimov, told about what was done during this period time at the 2nd International Conference ‘’The rail transportation of mining and metallurgical cargoes’’.
"The main advantage of the corridor is that it passes throough the territories of only three states - Iran, Azerbaijan and Russia, and it is the shortest route connecting the [Iranian] Bandar Abbas port, and Moscow in only 12 days,’’ Karimov said. During this year, the representatives of the railway departments of Iran, Azerbaijan and Russia worked out detailed procedures for the transportation of containers of various kinds on the route ‘North-South’. Currently, five test containers from Mumbai are carried in a direction of the Russian Federation on this route. "This will be the first cargo transportation between Russia and India through the territory of Iran and Azerbaijan, and we hope that it will serve as a catalyst for the traffic increasing through this corridor in the future,’’ the expert said.
After a completion of the railway line ‘Baku-Tbilisi-Kars’ as a new branch of ‘North-South’ corridor, an opportunity for the direct railway communication with Russia through Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey will appear. This is a gateway to the southern European countries, and through the Turkish port of Mersin to the Mediterranean region.
The infrastructure projects, which are designed to strengthen the country's transit potential, play important role in the development of the rail roads in Azerbaijan. Today Baku is implementing several infrastructure projects for modernization and construction of a railway on the territory of Azerbaijan, as well as in Iran and Georgia.
Azerbaijan invested US $ 9 billion in the infrastructure projects during the 2005-2009 period 2005-2009, as well as US $ 13 billion in the modernization and construction of roads and railways, including the construction of the port ‘Baku’ during the 2010-2015 period.
Who and what invests
The investments in the amount of $ 806 million were received from the World Bank and the ‘Azerbaijan Railways’ for the project of development of the railway transport corridor ‘East-West’, including forecasting, supply and installation of communication systems and energy supply, and the introduction of financial management systems.
The investments in the amount of $600 million were received from the Banking syndicates of the Czech Republic, HSBC Prague, Societe Generale and the Czech Bank of Commerce for the overhaul of the railway section of length 600 km, the supply of technical and material resources.
The investments in the amount of $276 million were received from the Societe Generale, BNP Paribas and HSBC France for the purchase of new locomotives, working on alternating current.
The investments in the amount of $120 million were received from the French Development Agency for a construction of the depot for the locomotive fleet.
Two key projects will be completed in the near future. This is, firstly, the railroad ‘Qazvin-Rasht-Astara’, which will connect the railways of Azerbaijan and Iran. This project plays an important role in the development of several corridors, and three are three stages of the project.
- construction of the railway section of length 8.3 km from the Azeri railway station ‘Astara’ to the Astarachay River;
- construction of the railway bridge of length 82 meters over the Astarachay river;
- construction of the railway road of length 1.7 km to the future terminal in the Iranian Astara. A change of the wheels will be made in the terminal in the Iranian side, due to the differences in the ruts of the railway roads on the territory of Azerbaijan and Iran. Also, there will be terminals for handling various cargoes, including grain, dry cargo, liquid cargo and containers.
A construction of the railway section of length167 km from Iran's Astara to the Rasht station and construction of the Qazvin -Rasht site of length 205 km are also provided.
Currently in the Southern direction the cargoes are transported by the rail road to the station ‘Qazvin’, where they are transshipped to the road transport and delivered to the station ‘Astara’ in Azerbaijan, where there is ADY Espress container terminal, then it is transshipped to the railway and further transported directly to the territory of Russia or Europe.
The construction of the railway road ‘Astara-Rasht-Qazvin’ between Azerbaijan and Iran is scheduled to be finished in November 2016.