TEHRAN (Iran News) –Abbas Khatibi, Deputy Head of Construction and Development of Transportation Infrastructure Company, affiliated with the Ministry of Roads and Urban Development, says Azerbaijan has withdrawn financing the Astara-Rasht railway and now Iran seeks getting financial sources from Russians.
Speaking to ILNA and touching upon talks with Russians for financing the Astara-Rasht railway during recent meeting with Russian Transportation official, Khatibi said that the Astara-Rasht railway is of the most important developmental projects of the country and the country is determined to implement and construct it. He added that this project is the last missing link of North-South Corridor and this corridor due to its length and position in the region creates special transit opportunities and it is important for the country.
He went on to say that since years ago they were aware of the North-South Corridor and its first phase which was from Qazvin to Rasht was implemented and came on stream four years ago, adding that since the first day after the inauguration of Qazvin-Rasht railway, the ministry signed the MoU for executive work of constructing the Astara-Rasht railway and the operation for its substructure in the first 10 kilometers of this route ended, and this year another contract was signed for the 11 kilometers of final part of the route worth of 1,000b tomans.
Khatibi added that they had talks for construction of the middle part of the route which is 140 kilometers and in case of getting required license and budget, the executive measures will be taken.
He admitted that in the issue of financing the Astara-Rasht railway, the ministry looks at its Russian partner, adding that before talks with Russians for financing the project, talks with Azerbaijan continued in this regard and the Azeri side announced that it has no interest in entering the project but Russians are still interested in financing this project and they are serious and they have expressed their interest in recent meetings.
Khatibi went on to say that according to the estimates, excluding the costs of the land for the project, it needs some 800m euros of budget to be completed.
He added that at the same time, the ministry is in talks with some other options for financing and any one creates the access to the financial resources faster than others will be active in the project. He noted that since Russia is one of the countries in this transit route it is natural talks with this country would be pursued seriously.
He admitted that for reaching agreement, the ministry needs time because such agreements are not signed in just one or two meetings and technical and financial committees should be activated and the first meeting of these committees was held.