Qazvin-Rasht railway: penultimate missing link on INSTC opened

The 164-kilometer-long rail road has finally connected Qazvin to the northern city of Rasht, very close to Azerbaijan. The only missing link is a rail project that will link Rasht to the border town of Astara in a bid to make Iran a hinge between Central Asia, Europe and South East Asia.

7 March 2019
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The 164-kilometer-long rail road has finally connected Qazvin to the northern city of Rasht, very close to Azerbaijan. The only missing link is a rail project that will link Rasht to the border town of Astara in a bid to make Iran a hinge between Central Asia, Europe and South East Asia.

The International North-South Transport Corridor is marked in bold green dots.

Iranian president has officially inaugurated the railroad linking the two Iranian cities of Qazvin and Rasht, the penultimate missing link on the International North-South Transport Corridor that connects South East Asia to Central Asia and finally Europe.

The railroad project—164-kilometer-long—will facilitate the transportation of goods from Mumbai in India to Helsinki in Finland upon completion, using Iranian ports and railroads, Financial Tribune reports.  As well as saving time, the route has been estimated to save $2,500 for every 15 tonnes of cargo, Global Construction Review reports.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani (middle) stands on a platform next to Roads and Urban Development Minister Mohammad Eslami (right) as he inaugurats Qazvin-Rasht railway. (Photo: ISNA, Ashkan Shabani) 

On the way back from the northern city of Rasht to Qazvin, there are railways only for 42 kilometers of the route, the remaining parts will be completed in coming months.

The rail project, worth more than 142 million dollars will also connect seven cities of Qazvin, Loshan, Manjil, Rudbar, Rostamabadm, Ememzade Hashem and finally Rasht.   

The railways’ has a capacity of transiting more than five million tons of cargo as well as transporting 1.4 million tons of passengers.

Huge construction work

22 kilometers of the project, designed and conducted by Iranian engineers, runs through 53 tonnels. There also 45 bridges as long as nine kilometers in total. The longest bridge is 1,430 metres that goes above the Manjil Lake, making it the longest rail bridge in Iran too.

A view of the railway bridge that goes above Manjil Lake 

What’s left is the railways that connects Rasht to Astara on the border with Azerbaijan that will fully connect all the cities on the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC).

A screenshot of view of the location of the cities of Rasht to Astara (Source: reconnectingasia.csis.org)

INSTC would substantially cut the travel time for everything from Asian consumer goods to Central Asia’s natural resources to advanced European exports, according to Financial Tribune.

The opening comes after high-ranking officials from Iran and 12 other countries, namely India, Russia, Turkey, Tajikistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bulgaria, Oman, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan and Syria, concluded two days of meetings in Tehran to coordinate work on INSTC on Monday and Tuesday, according to the paper. All of the above-mentioned states are located along the international transportation corridor.

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