April 16, 2008

India to Partner Iran on Russia Rail Link

TEHRAN (FNA)- Iran and India have signed an agreement that would help establish a new rail link between Iran and Russia.

According to the Iranian daily Tehran Times, the agreement implies greater cooperation with the International Union of Railways - the global body involved in establishing trans-national rail linkages.

The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed by the Indian Railway Board Chairman, K.C. Jena, and Hassan Ziari, the managing director of Iran's Railway Company. The MoU addresses issues such as technical training of the personnel, railroad signaling projects as well as the supply of locomotives and spare parts.

Analysts say a rail link between Iran and Russia can be seen as an elaboration of the North-South corridor, which begins with Indian ports such as Mumbai.

Ships then head towards Bandar Abbas in Iran on the Persian Gulf. From there, cargo is moved to the Iranian ports of Bandar Anzali and Amirabad on the Caspian Sea.

The final leg of the route begins from Astrakhan on the Russian side of the Caspian and reaches Moscow and St. Petersburg across the Volga corridor.

The MoU envisages the construction of a new track, which will connect the Iran's strategic port of Chabahar with the city of Fahrej in Central Iran. It will complement the proposed road link between Chabahar and Afghanistan.

This corridor can become a gateway for trade with Central Asia, in case it can hook up with Afghanistan's proposed garland road system, which envisages the construction of a web of inter-locking roads throughout Afghanistan.

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