Azerbaijan, being located in the strategically important situation – on crossing of two major international transport corridors from North to South and from East to West, over the centuries has a unique role as a bridge.
The hard work is underway towards the implementation of the international transport corridor “North-South”. The connection of the Azerbaijan Republic to the transport corridor “North-South” has agreed to national leader Heydar Aliyev. It was after his consent was carried out a number of important works in this direction. Since that time, these issues were thoroughly discussed in the numerous meetings between the Ministry of Transport of the Republic of Azerbaijan and the heads of the Ministries of Transport of Russia and Islamic Republic of Iran as well as its related organizations.
Agreement on international transport corridor “North-South” was signed on September 12, 2000 in St. Petersburg between Russian Federation, Islamic Republic of Iran and India. After passing the internal procedures in indicated countries, the Agreement entered into force on May 21, 2002. The agreement covers all types of transport: the transport infrastructures and transport means that provide transportation by rail, sea, road, river and air. With the exception of India, since its participation in the transportation shall be considered only on maritime routes. Forecasts indicate that in case of functioning at full capacity, the international transport corridor “North-South” will provide access of European countries, Russia, Central Asia and the Caucasus, to the Persian Gulf and India, will lead to intensification of trade relations of Caspian littoral states with Black Sea ports. This corridor will increase railway transportation between Europe – South Asia – Middle East, respectively, railway carriage earnings from both local and transit cargo carriages.
On May 19-21, 2004 in Moscow hosted a trilateral meeting of the heads of railways of Russia, Azerbaijan and Iran, where they discussed the establishment of an international consortium, attracting the flow of transit cargo to railways of three countries (market research), issues related to the joint design, exploratory and coordination (concord) of joint activities as well as common questions.
At the event, held on July 24-27, 2005 in Tehran, the capital of Iran was scheduled for a series of preparatory works. At this event they discussed construction, future operation of the international transport corridor “North-South”, methods of creating and funding the Consortium, share of each member in construction, ways of return of implied investing of fixed assets and other matters.
At the trilateral meeting held on February 9, 2005 in Baku mainly addressed issues related to design, construction and future operation of the railway line Qazvin-Rasht by railways of Russia, Azerbaijan and Iran, as well as establishing of a joint-stock company (JSC) in connection with the design of the railway section Astara (Azerbaijan) – Astara (Iran), alignment of the authorized capital of the Company.
Starting from 2001, certain works has been done in this direction; these works still are going on. The logical result of this work is approval by Milli Majlis of the draft law “On the accession of Azerbaijan to the Agreement on international transport corridor “North-South “”, and signing of the law by the President Ilham Aliyev, on September 10, 2005.
It should be mentioned that the heads of Railways of the States through which the corridor will pass, have expressed their support at accelerating of the process.At themeeting of the leadersof AzerbaijanandNorth CaucasianRailwaysin the checkpoint of Yalama-Samur, also discussed theimportanceof the international transportcorridor “North-South” in the economic developmentof the region,the issuesto be resolvedin the directionof its development. During this meetingalso discussed issues on restoring the day-night passing regime at the checkpoint,setting up a jointcommittee forfacilitatingand conducting of control procedures in relevantstations of the section, as well as arranging appropriate activitiesto acceleratecommercialtechnical,customs and boundarycontrol procedures.
In connectionwith opening ofthe corridor, Azerbaijan will carry outconstruction of the railway line with the length of 8.4 km,of railways for 4 stations with the length of 1050 meterseach. According to preliminary calculations, this requires funds forAZN 60bn.For constructionallotted a land plot. At the firststage, we canbe contentwith 2waysfrom 4.In thefuture, with theincrease of the volume of carriages, should be taken further measures.
Within the framework ofinternational transport corridor”North-South”, connectionof Azerbaijanrailways to the railway networkof Iran provides for laying of the railway lineAstara (Azerbaijan) and Astara (Iran). Between Azerbaijan Republicand Islamic Republicof Iran has signedthe “Agreement on the Frontier Railway”. The Iranian sidehas designedconstruction of a railwaybridgeover the Astarachay with the length of101metersand agreedwith the Azerbaijaniside.Itprovides for the involvementof the partieswith 50percent interest. The Iranian side has to carry out construction of the railway from indicated bridge to Astara (Iran). Also by specialists of the railway were held meetings at sites Astara (Azerbaijan) – Astara (Iran) at different times, where they discussed a number of issues to accelerate opening of this transportation corridor, implemented the relevant joint design and survey works, signed a mutual memorandum.
Issues of implementation ofthe international transportcorridor “North-South” was subject toongoingdiscussionsof tripartitemeetings held on a regular basis. On September 27, 2005inMoscow hosted a meetingof representatives ofthe railways of Azerbaijan, Iran and Russia on the construction ofa new railway lineQazvin-Rasht-Astara (Iran)-Astara (Azerbaijan). Herediscussed issues connected withthe implementation process of the agreementon organization ofpreparation of the project for construction and operationof the new railwaylineQazvin-Rasht-Astara (Iran)-Astara (Azerbaijan) andprovidedwithplansto complete implementation of the project.
At the trilateralmeeting of the leaders of Railwaysof Azerbaijan, Iranand Russia,held inthe fourthquarter of 2005in Bakuaddressed issuesrelated to the future implementation of the project.
Currently, the Yalama-Astara section, located on the transport corridor “North-South” railway,allows carry out up to 5 milliontons of cargo throughthe corridor,as provided forin the initial stages. It is projected thatin the next phase the cargo volumeis expected toincrease to10-15 milliontons,forprovidingin its entirety andprotectingthe safety standards, it isnecessary to carry outa number oftechnical measures.
On June 17-19,2008 inBaku hostednextmeeting on theimplementation of the internationaltransport corridor “North-South”. The meeting focused onthe following issues:about the work doneby Iranconnected with construction of the lineQazvin-Rasht-Astara (Iran) – Astara (Azerbaijan), which is part of theinternational transport corridor”North-South”; consideration of the situationof executionof documentssignedat the three previousmeetings; proposal of the Open Joint Stock Company”Russian Railways” concerning “The concept of joint cooperation”, associated with accelerationof the project, preparing of the businessplan of “The concept of joint cooperation”.