Russian Railways expects to sign agreements on completion Rasht-Astara railway in Iran soon
MOSCOW. March 17 (Interfax) - Russian Railways or RZD expects to sign intergovernmental agreements this year on the completion of the Rasht-Astara railway in Iran, Sergei Pavlov, the company's first deputy head, told reporters on the sidelines of the 15th International Economic Forum of CIS Member States in Moscow.
Pavlov said the Russian Transport Ministry was currently drafting two intergovernmental agreements: Iran-Russia and a trilateral Azerbaijan-Russia-Iran.
"I think both of these agreements will be signed in the very near future," he said.
Asked how much the construction might cost, Pavlov said that "the estimate, which is now being considered, is $1.6 billion."
He said there were plans to build both narrow and a wide gauge tracks. "There have been talks, some at the highest level, and a decision was made to build a section of the Rasht-Astara line on a combined gauge. That is, it is planned to lay both 1435 [mm, the current standard in Iran] and 1520 [mm, the Russian gauge]. But first, 1435 [mm] rails will be laid in order to use the existing infrastructure and travel as quickly as possible," he said.
Pavlov said the start of construction depended on intergovernmental agreements, "including the allocation of land, this is one of the key issues that all participants pay attention to."
As for completion, he said: "What the Iranian side presented today in their design solutions is four years, but we think this can be shortened.