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Maiden Russian cargo transit rail to India using INSTC reaches Iran

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Marking the official launch of the eastern section of the North-South railway corridor, the first rail transit cargo carrying 39 containers from Russia to India entered Iran on Tuesday through the Sarakhs border crossing.

The Russian transit train which left Chekhov station on July 6, travelled 3,800 kilometres through Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan to enter Iran.

As reported by Tehran Times, the cargo will be transported to Bandar Abbas port in southern Iran through a 1600 km rail route to finally be sent to India’s Nhava Sheva Port via sea. 

The Russian train was allowed into the Iranian border in a ceremony attended by First Vice President Mohammad Mokhber along with transport, oil, industry, and agriculture ministers as well as the vice president for science and technology. Mother speaking at the ceremony stressed the Iranian government’s determination for expanding trade with neighbouring countries, especially in the transit sector. He said, “The transit capacity of the country has increased to 20 million tons and by planning and taking appropriate measures, transiting 300 million tons of commodities per year can be reached,” 

The North-South Corridor consists of three route sections, namely East, West, and Middle.

To shorten the transit time from Russia to India, Iran and Russia are also cooperating in the maritime sector to use the Caspian Sea. 

International North-South Transport Corridor- a 7200 Km long trade route, is a corridor that will increase trade between India and Russia. The route connects India and Russia through Iran and Azerbaijan and facilitates freight transportation through a multi-mode network of roads, ships, and railways. 

The corridor aims to reduce the carriage cost between India and Russia by about 30% and reduce the transit time from 40 days by more than half.

Earlier this week, the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (IRISL) announced that it has assigned 300 containers to transport goods between Russia and India. 

The mentioned containers have been allocated to execute the first phase of a program for transiting Russian commodities to India via the North-South Corridor using the Caspian Sea.

“According to the plans made by the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines, in the first phase, 300 containers have been considered for transporting cargo to Russia, and if the demand increases, the number of these containers will increase continuously,” an IRISL statement said.

Russia, India, and Iran are the founding member states of INSTC. The agreement was signed in 2002.

There are 13 member states of the INSTC project – India, Iran, Russia, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Belarus, Tajikistan, Kyrgystan, Oman, Turkey, Syria, and Ukraine.

Bulgaria is the Observer State. The Baltic countries like Latvia and Estonia have also expressed willingness to join the INSTC.

India shows interest in extending INSTC membership to countries like Afghanistan and Uzbekistan. Establishing a land route via Kabul and Tashkent to form the INSTC’s “Eastern corridor” would maximize the potential of this collaboration.

INSTC yields benefits for India’s perishable goods (fruits and vegetables), high-value items like ATMs, industrial printers, 3D printers, robotic assembly accessories, etc. export. Benefiting sectors from INSTC also include cross-border e-commerce, and sectors that are likewise. 

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