Russia and Iran have signed a deal to build an Iranian railway line, the Rasht-Astara railway as part of an International North–South Transport Corridor (INSTC).
- The Rasht-Astara railway is seen as an important link in the corridor, intended to connect India, Iran, Russia, Azerbaijan and other countries via railways and sea – a route that Russia says can rival the Suez Canal as a major global trade route.
- Rash Astra Railway is a 162-kilometer railway that will connect the city of Rasht (Iran) near the Caspian Sea, to Astara (Azerbaijan) on the border with Azerbaijan.
- The new connection will shave four days off that traveling time frame.
- The unique North-South transport artery, of which the Rasht-Astara railway will become a part, will help to significantly diversify global traffic flows.
- Transportation along the new corridor will have significant competitive advantages and will substantially cut travel times and costs and help develop new logistics chains.
- The railway along the Caspian Sea coast would help to connect Russian ports on the Baltic Sea with Iranian ports in the Indian Ocean and the Gulf.