Russia is ready to partly fund the project with 1.6 billion euros, as Trend News Agency (TNA) mentioned. Construction of the Rasht-Astara line should take about four years, provided that the financial resources are and remain available. Bazrpash, who recently visited Russia to discuss this infrastructure, added that the Rasht-Anzali railway, another key INSTC section in Iran that leads to the Bandar Anzali port, will be completed by March 2024. This line will provide direct rail access to the Caspian Sea, which is often the preferred route to reach Iran from Russia.
Iran and the INSTC
The Rasht-Astara railway will run along Iran’s southwestern coast all the way to the Azerbaijan border. From there, the Azerbaijani network stretches up to Russia via Baku and the Yalama – Tagirkent-Kazmalyar rail border crossing. From Rasht, the line continues to Qazvin and then Teheran. Cooperation between Iran and Azerbaijan recently focussed also on building a terminal in Astara. Concerning the INSTC, Iran is also working on creating a rail connection to the Chabahar Port by building a section to Zahedan, where there is a link to the main network. This line should become operational next year, with some sections already being inaugurated.