1220 GMT October 20, 2019
"Apart from Azerbaijan, Russia, the Czech Republic and Hungary have also indicated willingness to take part in Rasht-Astara railway project," Mohsen Pakaein said.
The projects are expected to cost over $1 billion and will link the Persian Gulf to Russia and Eastern Europe.
He added that the two sides are expected to agree on the type of the loan (direct investment, direct or joint finance and credit) in next 3-4 months following which the construction of the railroad will begin immediately.
He also said that Qazvin-Rasht railroad project has shown a 93-percent progress and will be completed by March 2017.
"Azerbaijan is completing its sector in Astara city and upon completion the transport of goods would start by late 2016," he said.
"For instance, Indian goods would be shipped to Iran's Persian Gulf port of Bandar Abbas, then transported to Rasht by railroad and thence to Astara by trucks and finally through Azerbaijani rail grid to Russia or other destinations."
Pakaein added that it is expected that Rasht-Astara section will become operational by 2018 when the cargo can directly be loaded by trains from Bandar Abbas to Azerbaijan and beyond.
The Qazvin-Rasht-Astara railway is a part of the North-South transport corridor. The North-South international transport corridor will link Northern Europe and Southeast Asia. It will serve as a bridge to connect the railways of Iran, Azerbaijan and Russia.
Initially, three to five million tons of cargo per year will be transported via the corridor, and this figure will increase up to 10-12 million tons, according to preliminary estimates.