Azerbaijan is serious about the development of North-South transit corridor, Hossein Ashoori, vice president of operation and international transportation of Islamic Republic of Iran Railways told Trend.
He said that Iran, Russia, Azerbaijan hold a meeting every month to discuss the development of North-South corridor and Baku has taken a key role in this project.
Iran and India have also had two meetings during the current year, because one of the participanting transit countries in the mentioned route is India.
"We would launch combined transit system for now. The first experimental cargo transiting from India to Russia through Iran and Azerbaijan will be carried out in August. The cargo will be shipped from India to Bandar Abbas port by the Persian Gulf, then it will be transited via rail to the city of Qazvin, then carried by trucks to Azerbaijan's city of Astara near the border with Iran. Finally the cargo will be delivered to Russia though the Azerbaina-Russia railroad," said Ashoori.
Ashoori said that the only remained sector of the corridor is Rasht-Astara, which is expected to be completed in 4-5 years.
Qazavin-Rasht route, as well as the railway bridge with a length of 82.5 meters on the border of Azerbaijan and Iran over the Astarachay River as well as a pert of railroad in Azerbaijan (8 km) are expected to be completed in 6 months.
He said that the participant countries have defined two interim routes for combined transportation: Iran-Azerbaijan-Russia as well as Iran-Azerbaijan-Georgia (Batumi port).
Ashoori said that regarding the terror attacks on the Iran-Ankara-Europe rail route, the mentioned two interim routes can help Iran to have alternatives to Turkey route.
Ashoori added that trade and cargo transit through railroad between Iran and EU is expected to increase significantly in 2017 due to the result of elimination of sanctions on Iran in January 2016.
"Coning to Azerbaijan, the cargoes can be shipped in Iran's Amirabad port and be delivered to Alat or Baku ports, then they can be carried through railroad to Georgia. The second option is to load the cargoes in Astara to Azerbaijani trains and transporting to Georgia," he said.
Ashoori expressed hope that Azerbaijan will help with financing Iran's remaining section of the Rasht-Astara route.
Azerbaijan has agreed to allocate $500 million to the project. The agreement on the generalities has been achieved and the sides would start negotiations on the details on July 26.