23 May 2023 11:17

Russia, Iran to draft general contract to build Rasht-Astara railway in coming months

MOSCOW. May 23 (Interfax) - Russia and Iran will in the coming months prepare a general contract on the construction of the Rasht-Astara railway line in Iran, which is part of the North-South international transport corridor, Russian Transport Minister Vitaly Savelyev told reporters.

"During a visit to Iran we talked through the main terms. Now we are exchanging letters, as we agreed with the transport minister of Iran, Mehrdad Bazrpash, and will present our companies from both sides that will participate in this. We think that in the near future a few months might be needed to draft a general, main, contract between our companies for them to start implementing this project. Money has been allocated, now we need to prepare for implementation," Savelyev said when asked if a construction contract had been signed.

He said the rail line will be built jointly, but there will be a separation. "Construction materials that are clearly significantly cheaper in Iran, such as cement, sand and gravel, will be acquired in Iran. More complex products, the main component of the financing, will go to Russian companies. This is rails, prefabricated concrete products, locomotives, automation equipment, signalling and so on," Savelyev said, adding that "we are now quickly looking for companies from both sides that will participate in this."

Asked about the planned gauge of the track, he said the plan is to build a dual gauge line. "We will start with 1435 gauge, but we will build a dual gauge that will make it possible to lay another rail [for 1520 gauge] if it is necessary to expand shipping volume," Savelyev said.

Earlier in May, Russia and Iran signed a cooperation agreement on financing the design, construction and provision of goods and services for the construction of the Rasht-Astara railway. The document was signed in the presence of Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and President Vladimir Putin, who joined the ceremony by video call.

It was also reported that Russia will provide an intergovernmental loan of 1.3 billion euros to build the rail line, which is expected to be built by the end of 2027. The overall cost of the project is 1.6 billion euros.