The project on the creation of a railway linking Armenia and Iran is doomed to failure, says foreign affairs analyst Fuad Shahbazov in a blog post published by the online newspaper The Times of Israel.
The estimated cost of building the Armenian section of the railroad is about $3.2 billion, which does not include the costs of land acquisition and customs duties on equipment, said Shahbazov, who has been published and quoted widely by Forbes, Jerusalem Post, EurActive, etc.
He noted that the project’s entire cost is on a level comparable to Armenia’s annual budget.
Clearly, the lack of financial resources as well as necessary political willpower can be seen as a reason behind the non-implementation of the project, according to him.
Iran – Armenia’s regional partner – seems to be reluctant to give a loan for the construction of the Armenian part of the railway which is approximately 250 km, reads the article.
The mentioned railway project was one of the most effective tools of Serzh Sargsyan, Armenia’s president, during presidential elections in 2008, Shahbazov said.
Most probably, at the beginning, Armenia sought to get economic support from Iran for the construction of the railway, but then, Iran’s economy neglected under the sanctions was not able to support the project, according to the author.
Today, sanctions on Iran were lifted up but seemingly, now Iran is more interested in its own transportation projects, such as Qazvin – Rasht – Astara (Azerbaijan). This railway is a part of the North-South corridor that will link other railways of Russia, Iran, and Azerbaijan, reads the article.
Iran is not as interested in the joint project with Armenia as much as Armenia is, according to Shahbazov.
Although, Armenia actively discusses the railway project, it is completely unable to offer any alternative project or idea that Tehran might be interested in. In the meantime, Azerbaijan rapidly takes an initiative in the railway race, the author says.
Besides, it should be noted that Armenia’s state railway company is largely owned by the Russian company Southern-Caucasus Railway, Shahbazov said. It means Yerevan is literally not able to promote the implementation of the Armenia – Iran railway project without Russia’s blessing. The company controls the main transit and transportation projects of Armenia and is the only responsible body for official negotiations with foreign investors and countries related to the transportation projects, reads the article.
Thus, Armenia’s endeavour to find reliable investors for the Iran – Armenia railway project failed, reads the article.
Considering all these facts, it is safe to say that the railway project between Iran and Armenia is doomed to failure, said Shahbazov.