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Azerbaijani, Iranian transport projects may become part of China’s Belt and Road Initiative

Baku, Azerbaijan, Marc.

16 Trend: The long anticipated Baku-Tbilisi-Kars line helps to forge the transport links for a viable trans-Eurasian trade route, which passes through Central Asia, the founder of The New Silk Road Project Charles Stevens told Azernews.

Charles Stevens is the founder of The New Silk Road Project. In 2016 he cycled 10,000km along the ancient Silk Road from Beijing to Tehran. He enjoys reading, writing, public speaking, racket sports and anything entrepreneurial.

The New Silk Road will investigate various proposals and promises of the new Belt Road Initiative. This project will involve an epic 10,000-mile journey around 18 countries over approximately 45 days in the summer of 2018. Stevens added that with the current electrification of the Tehran Mashhad railway line and the wider Iranian network by 2025, this will help increase freight transportation volume along the link.

“The Astara Transit Terminal is also an exciting addition to the blossoming North South Transport Corridor,” Stevens stressed. Previously, Azerbaijan expressed its intention to utilize railway facilities in the northern Iranian city of Astara for at least a decade in return for the construction of a railway segment connecting the two countries. In October 2017, Azerbaijan and Iran finalized the negotiations for financing the Rasht-Astara railway as well as the construction of the 10 kilometers long Astara (Iran) – Astara (Azerbaijan) railway segment.

“I have been following some of the developments in Azerbaijan closely and I think they are significant. Azerbaijan is participating in a project to both further economic opportunity and recast Eurasia into a contiguous and coherent whole. As a country, it is well placed to be important in one of these most exciting developments,” said Stevens.

He believes that over the coming years there will be a further growth in the freightage brought from Iranian ports which drastically cuts transport times of good traveling from India to Europe from 40 to 15 days. Whilst the North South Corridor is not a part of BRI (Belt and Road Initiative), it plays a wider role in Eurasian integration, he said. “It demonstrates that the ‘New Silk Road’ is bigger than just projects associated with BRI and is not owned by a single country,” according to Stevens.

The International North-South transport Corridor is a 7,200-km-long multi-mode network of ship, rail and road route for freight transportation between India, Iran, Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Russia, Central Asia and Europe. The route primarily involves moving freight from India, Iran, Azerbaijan and Russia via ship, rail and road.

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