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ITE Transport and Logistics

Russia and Iran sign rail deal at Tehran conference

Oil, Rail & Ports, the first international event in Iran dedicated to enhancing partnerships between rail, ports and shippers, attracted 600 participants to Tehran earlier this month – including Russian Railways president Oleg Belozerov, who signed an agreement with Iranian Railways president Dr. Mohsen Pour Seyed Aghaie to boost cooperation in Iran’s rail sector.

The agreement focused on how the two countries can work together to boost cargo volume on the north-south route that links Russia to Iran and the Caspian Sea countries. A number of important new links are set to become reality as part of the deal, including a direct rail link to connect the rail networks of three countries – Russia, Azerbaijan and Iran. Another project set to benefit are the electrification of the Garmsar-Ince Burun line in northern Iran, with a total length of 495km up for work. After signing the deal, Belozerov said that Russia-Iran rail cooperation is underutilised – but freight between the two is already 25% up in the first four months of 2016, and the new deal will only see this going one way.

Of course, it is not just Russia looking to Iran for new projects. The lifting of international sanctions on Iran has sparked huge interest from around the world in the country’s ripe transport and logistics market – particularly developing capacity to export Iran’s hydrocarbon reserves, trapped by sanctions for decades.  With this in mind, discussion at the Oil, Rail & Ports conference focused on the chance for synergy between shipping lines, ports and railways in and around Iran. Participants included Iranian government ministers, foreign diplomats and representatives of international companies and institutions, including Mohammadreza Nematzadeh, minister of Industry, Mine and Trade of Iran, Dr Abbas Akhoundi, minister of Roads and Urban Development, and Francois Davenne, president of OTIF (the Intergovernmental Organisation for International Carriage by Rail).

The two-day conference programme was structured around several main topics relating to cooperation with ports on the one hand, and with the oil and gas industry (markets, regulations & logistical efficiency) on the other. Speakers gave presentations on areas such as developing rail transit in partnership with Iranian ports, the oil sector’s role in boosting Iranian rail, and the investment opportunities that the low oil price is bringing in Iran.


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