South Caucasus Railways, Russian Railways’ subsidiary which manages and operates Armenia’s rail network, announced plans to increase its investment in rail infrastructure.
”In 2017, we will allot additional USD 5.4 million to Armenia’s infrastructure,” Sergey Valko, General Manager of South Caucasus Railways, mentioned.
The Russian Railways’ subsidiary was established in 2008 and manages the Armenian railway network through a 30-year concession contract.
In addition to the budget this year for rail infrastructure works, Armenia plans to invest in its most important project. This is Southern Armenia Railway, a railway line that will allow a direct connection between Yerevan and Iran via Syunik to Tabriz, a city in northern Iran.
The railway line has a length of 470 kilometers and its construction is estimated at a total cost of USD 3.5 billion. Russia, which will benefit from this connection through the Caucasus, has announced it will support the project by assigning USD 429 million.
Moreover, Armenia has stated that a number of Chinese financial institutions have expressed an interest in financing almost 60% of the entire project. Iran will, of course, finance the rail section that runs its own territory.
According to the latest estimates, construction of the line could start in 2017 and should be completed in 2022.
Currently, Armenia’s only external rail link is with Georgia, the neighbouring countries Azerbaijan and Turkey have blocked Armenia’s rail access and interrupting any transport links with the small country, due to countless political and even military disagreements, which keep Armenia in continued economic isolation (editor’s note).