Recently information has been circulating through various media outlets that the JSC Russian Railways started developing the Armenia-Iran railway construction project. The first deputy director of the company, Alexander Misharin, announced, “We have started working on this seriously. Today, this route (EN: Persian Gulf-Black Sea, passing through Armenia) is multimodal, that is, it involves railway and automobile transportation. ”
The construction of the Armenia-Iran railway is perhaps the most discussed and speculated topic over the past 10 years. It reached its logical end on January 12, 2017, when the RA Government decided to liquidate the “Railway Construction Directorate” CJSC. From 2011 to 2016 this CJSC received 253 million AMD from the state budget of Armenia.
The history of the railway
Serge Sargsyan announced about the program during the 2008 presidential campaign. It was the third of the three mega-projects: “North-South”, “New Nuclear Power Plant”, “Armenia-Iran Railway”. “In the upcoming years the construction of the Armenia-Iran railway will begin,” Sargsyan stated.
Initially, the program was estimated at about USD 2 billion, then USD 2.5 billion, and at the end USD 3.2 billion. It was clear that for a country having an overall GDP of USD 10 billion, implementation of such a program is not feasible. Information was spread that the program would be financed by Russia, then by China, and later even by the World Bank. None of the above mentioned was realized.
In 2013, again before the presidential election, the launching of a USD 3.5 billion project was announced. At that time a tripartite Memorandum of Understanding on regional cooperation for the development of the Southern Armenia Railway was signed between the South Caucasus Railway CJSC, the Ministry of Transport and Communication of Armenia and the Russia FZE Investment Company registered in Dubai.
“Russia FZE” announced the launching of a large-scale project aimed at developing the strategy of the railway consortium for the feasibility study of the projects, their design, financing, development and exploitation. One year later, in 2014, the railway construction project was ready. According to the project, the initial construction cost was USD 3.2 billion, and the construction work was planned to last for six years.
Once again, a year later, in 2015, the President of OJSC Russian Railways Vladimir Yakunin announced that the project of Armenia-Iran railroad construction was ineffective. The Head of the Railways expressed conviction that the project does not have any perspective: “It is like opening a window on a wall that has no view besides the wall of the neighbor’s house”.
Today, however, Alexander Misharin denies his own head; saying that the program is not only effective, it is already being developed. Only time will show how accurate this statement is.