North-South International Transport Corridor
The creation of the International North–South Transport Corridor was spearheaded by the Ministry of Transport of the Russian Federation with a view to implementing Russia’s strategic partnership with the countries of the Caspian Sea region. At the same time, this corridor is intended to enhance Russia’s links with the countries of the Persian Gulf and South Asia and ensure the development of Eurasian transit traffic via domestic transport links.
The International Agreement on the International North–South Transport Corridor was signed by Russia, Iran and India on 12 September 2000.
In May 2002, a protocol on the official opening of the corridor was signed in St .Petersburg by the transport ministers of the participating countries.
Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Oman and Syria have since joined the Agreement.
The southern part of the International North–South Transport Corridor includes several freight routes using rail transport:
- The Trans–Caspian route – a route running through the Russian seaports of Astrakhan, Olya, Makhachkala and the Iranian ports of Bandar-e Anzali, Nowshahr and Bandar Amirabad;
- The western branch – a direct rail link running through the Samur (Russia) – Yalama (Azerbaijan) border crossing, with further access to the Iranian rail network through the Astara (Azerbaijan) – Astara (Iran) border crossing;
- The eastern branch – a direct rail link going through Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan with access to the Iranian rail network via the Serakhs (Turkmenistan) – Sarakhs (Iran) and Ak-Yayla (Turkmenistan) – Inche Burun (Iran) border crossings.
Currently, these routes are used mainly for Russian export cargoes destined for Azerbaijan and Iran.
ON THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE WESTERN BRANCH OF THE INTERNATIONAL NORTH–SOUTH TRANSPORT CORRIDOR
The timing of the commissioning of the new Rasht – Astara (Iran) – Astara (Azerbaijan) rail line, the last missing link of the direct rail route along the western branch of the International North–South Transport Corridor, will be of great importance for the ITC’s development in the medium term.
The main advantage of the western branch of the International North–South Transport Corridor over other routes is its shorter distance, which can significantly reduce delivery times.
The new line will come in handy primarily when it comes to interstate container traffic. A multimodal India–Iran–Azerbaijan–Russia route is currently being developed as part of cooperation between Russia, Azerbaijan and Iran that will provide regular containerised cargo shipments.
The prospects for the development of freight transport along the corridor will depend on how trade and economic ties between the countries that are party to the International North–South Transport Corridor Agreement progress, as well as on how successfully freight flows between Europe and the countries of the Persian Gulf and South Asia can be attracted.
DEVELOPMENT PROSPECTS FOR THE SECTIONS OF THE INTERNATIONAL NORTH–SOUTH TRANSPORT CORRIDOR UP TO 2020 AND BEYOND UNTIL 2025
Russian Railways is constantly working to develop and upgrade its railway network.
The framework documents in this respect are the General Scheme for the Development of the Railway Network of JSC Russian Railways for the Period up to 2020 and beyond until 2025 (hereinafter, the “General Scheme”) and the Transport Strategy of the Russian Federation up to 2030.
According to the General Scheme, railway infrastructure development involves implementing individual measures to increase the capacity of railway sections (construction of additional main lines, construction and rehabilitation of passing loops, reinforcement of power supply devices, electrification of sections, equipping of sections with automatic blocking, extension of arrival and departure tracks at stations, and station development), as well as comprehensive investment projects.
The following key activities in the International North–South Transport Corridor route are scheduled for the period up to 2025:
- the launch of a high-speed passenger service on the St. Petersburg – Buslovskaya section;
- the development of the Moscow railway hub;
- the reconstruction and electrification of the Rtishchevo – Kochetovka section;
- the construction of a bypass for the Saratov railway hub;
- the comprehensive reconstruction of the Trubnaya – Verkhny Baskunchak – Aksarayskaya section;
- express and high-speed traffic projects, etc.