INTERNATIONAL: Railway, shipping and port officials from Iran, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Ukraine met in Azerbaijan on January 12 to agree plans for the development of freight transport corridors between the Indian port of Mumbai and the Mediterranean.

Three routes are offered. All start with the maritime leg from Mumbai to the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas and then by rail through Iran. Land and two Caspian Sea shipping options are then offered to Azerbaijan, with onward rail transport to Georgia’s Black Sea ports of Batumi and Poti.

Railways of the Islamic Republic of Iran said the 5 527 km route via Qazvin and the Iranian/Azerbaijan land border crossing at Astara would take 13 days and cost US$2 190 per TEU; a cross-border rail link is planned for the future. The 5 288 km route with a shipping connection from the Caspian Sea port of Amirabad in Iran to Baku in Azerbaijan would take 22 days and cost US$2 200, while the 5 205 km route via the Iranian port of Anzali and Baku would cost US$2 275.

Georgia and Azerbaijan have agreed to supply bogies for the break of gauge between the 1 520 mm gauge network and Iran’s 1 435 mm network, while Iran’s Ports & Maritime Organization has committed to completing a train ferry terminal with 2 km of railway and bogie-changing facilities at the port of Amirabad within six months.