The Russian and Armenian governments have started jointly looking into the possibility of building a railway that would connect Armenia with neighboring Iran, a top executive of Russia’s state-run rail network, RZD, said on Thursday.
The ambitious project was formally approved by Yerevan and Tehran in April 2009. But they have yet to identify concrete sources of funding for the 470-kilometer rail link that would mainly pass through Armenian territory. Unofficial estimates of its total cost have varied from $1.2 billion to $4 billion.
The Armenian government hopes that the Russians will participate in the railway construction and partly finance it. The Russian government and RZD, which manages Armenia’s national railway company, have not ruled out such possibility.
During a press conference in Yerevan today, General Director of the South Caucasus Railways (SCR) Shevket Shaydulin stated that Russia is interested in construction of the Armenia-Iran railway and will participate in the project. The head of SCR said that trilateral commission, including Armenian and Russian transport ministries and the Russian Railways, has been already set up. The working groups of the commission will elaborate technical and economic evaluation of the project.
“At last, the working commissions of the two parties have started working,” Shaydulin told journalists.
Shaydulin said another RZD subsidiary, the Moscow-based Giprotransproekt research institute, will launch a detailed feasibility study of the project after Toni’s task force works out technical parameters of the would-be railway. That study should be completed by next April, he added.
According to Armenian officials, China is another only potential source of funding for the project.

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