ArmInfo. Construction of Iran-Armenia railway has been considered economically justified based on the results the feasibility study, Deputy Minister of Transport and Communication of Armenia Arthur Arakelyan told ArmInfo's journalist.
The Deputy Minister recalled that in May 2012 the Armenian and Iranian sides signed concession agreement according to which discussions of feasibility study, its main tasks, construction and financing of the project were held. According to the Deputy Minister
the pay-off period of the project was also calculated. "According to the presented report the pay-off period will total 25-30 years", the deputy minister informed adding that active work is being conducted aimed at the project's soonest implementation. "At the same time, financing remains the main problem", he noted.
"During the visit of Armenia's Minister of Transport and Communications Gagik Beglaryan to Iran agreements were reached on activization of cooperation between the two countries. Within these agreements visit of Iranian specialists for studying technical feasibility of the project, exchange of experience and development of proposals on the project was planned. Only after termination of expert discussions it will be possible to talk about the results of
the Iranian experts' study. On the current stage the specialists of the two countries are conducting joint work aimed at studying the possibilities", Arakelyan informed.
As it was informed earlier Iran's Ambassador to Armenia Seyyed Kazem Sajjad told journalists on May 26 that Iranian experts were invited to Armenia for studying the possibilities of Iran's participation in the construction of Iran-Armenia railway. The Ambassador stressed the importance of the meetings between the ministers of the two countries and expressed hope that Iran will take part in the implementation of this important project.
The construction project of Iran-Armenia railway will be also on the agenda of discussions within Chinese delegation, headed by Vice-Premier Zhang Gauli, visit to Armenia on June 6
To recall, Armenia and Iran signed a concession agreement in May 2012. In cooperation with Dubai-based investment company, Rasia FZE, a feasibility study of the Southern Railway project was developed. It is anticipated that the construction will take 6 years. The
feasibility study of the project Southern Railway of Armenia (Iran-Armenia railway) is ready. The railway is supposed to connect Asia with Central Europe. It will be 305 km long and will consist of 86 bridges and 60 tunnels. The estimated cost of the project is $3.5bn. According to ArmInfo's economic analysts, there are three factors that make the project inefficient. First, the Armenian railway cannot have direct access to Russia. Second, even if there is
a hypothetical possibility that the Abhkazian section of the railway will be reactivated in future, the Iran- Armenian motorway that will have been built by that time will make the Iran-Armenia railway absolutely unnecessary in view of its short mileage. The third, most important factor is the Astara-Resht- Kazvin railway project implemented by the Russian Railways to link the operating railways of Russia, Azerbaijan, and Iran. That project is part of the North-South
international transport corridor that will integrate the transport routes and information highways of Russia, Azerbaijan, Iran, India and Oman. The analysts say the Iran-Armenia project is politically motivated. Therefore, the sides have not managed to set it in motion within the last 3 years. The statements by Armenian officials claiming that China may invest in the project as part of its ambitions plan to restore the great Silk Road (cost $40 billion) do not stand up to criticism either. Armenia is not mentioned in any of the new Silk Road scenarios, unlike the Iran-Azerbaijan and Turkey-Georgia railways. Relatively recently, the transport minister
of Iran voiced quite promising projects of railway communication with the countries in the region, but Armenia was not mentioned in any of those projects.