Companies from Iran, China and Russia have expressed their interest in building the Armenian section of railway, part of the cross-border section Iran-Armenia, a segment that will connect Armenia, via Iran, to the Middle East and the Far East, apart from its current railway connections in Europe. The transport ministers from Armenia, Iran and Russia met for the first time in November 2011 to discuss about the project which is currently in the design phase.
This railway, that links the North to the South, will ensure the transport of energy and raw materials from Armenia to the east while facilitating its trade.
Meanwhile, Iran has upgraded its railway hubs to permit the traffic of trains from India, China and Central Asia. This will transform Iran into a railway hub of Middle East for the goods that transit to the east. On the other hand, Armenia could have major benefits from these infrastructure investments.
Iran-Armenia railway has been brought to discussion for the first time by the Armenian National Security Council on grounds of regional security and has been recently declared priority project. The National Council has also recently announced necessary costs that will vary between USD 1.7 and 2.8 Billion. Armenia is currently negotiating with the Asian Development Bank for financing. “Armenia continues negotiations with Iran on the launch of construction works on the railway that will connect the two countries”, declared at the beginning of September, Arthur Baghdasaryan, Secretary of the Armenian National Security Council.
At the beginning of September, the Government in Tehran announced they were ready to financially support works to the Armenian railway section and that works on their own territory had already been launched. At the moment, Armenia only has railway connections with Georgia, but a railway to Iran will offer Armenia another alternative for the transport of energy resources and other goods.
Baghdasaryan added that the project for the construction of the railway to Iran, as well as the reopening of the railway to Abkhazia (autonomous republic inside the Republic of Georgia) represent strategic elements of the Armenian Security Plan 2014-2017.
“The problem is not only the reopening of the railway to Abkhazia, but also the allocation of significant investments in the Armenian railway network”, believes the Secretary of the Armenian National Security Council.
Armenia plays a major role in developing new infrastructures and transport corridors, the projects that link the Caspian Sea and the regions of the Black Sea through or from South Caucasus. A series of past political conflicts with Turkey and especially the military conflicts from the Nagorno – Karabah region with Azerbaijan have isolated Armenia’s transport connections. Only in 2006 was this republic of South Caucasus included in the Eastern Partnership and can now benefit from financial support from the European Bank of Investments for development of infrastructure projects. Domestic transport in Armenia includes: automotive, railway, air, urban and the most accessible is railway transport. The fact that in 2011 Armenia became member of COTIF is an important step for the connection of the Caucasus to Europe.
[ by Elena Ilie ]