Once complete, the project could help India and Russia increase bilateral trade to the targeted USD 30 billion over the next 10 years.
The International North South Transportation Corridor (INSTC), which will connect Mumbai and Saint Petersburg in Russia is set to be become operational by mid-January 2018, according to a report by The Economic Times.
While the project, which has been 17 years in the making, will kick-start with the first consignment from India to Russia next month, it will only become fully operational in few months after its formal operationalisation.
The report also states that all key stakeholders have undertaken hectic preparations to firm up all elements of the corridor including a Russian railway operator, which is expected to play key role in the project.
What is the project about?
The 7,200 kilometre multi-mode network comprising of of ships, railway and roads aimed at moving cargo, cuts through India, Iran, Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Russia, Central Asia and eastern Europe.
The project's objective is to improve trade connectivity between major centres of trade such as Mumbai, Moscow, Tehran, Baku, Bandar Abbas, Astrakhan and Bandar Anzali, by branching out the main route.
A Kazakhstan - Turkmenistan - Iran rail link between stretching 677 km was operationalised in 2014 at a cost of USD 620 million.
The project could boost trade
According to a report by Russian news agency Sputnik News, the project will help India and Russia to increase bilateral trade to the targeted USD 30 billion over the next 10 years.
In 2014, dry runs that were conducted on two segments of the route, according to which the transport costs were reduced by up to USD 2,500 per 15 tons of cargo.
The project will let cargo from India travel to Chabahar Port in Iran and then to Russia and Eastern Europe via central Asian countries. Currently, a cargo is carried on freight ships via the Red Sea, Suez Canal, Mediterranean Sea, the English Channel and then the Baltic Sea.
The first phase of the Chabahar Port in Iran, which will play a vital role in the project, was opened earlier this month.The port, which is being developed by India, is also seen as a rival to the Chinese-built Gwadar port in Pakistan. The Gwadar port acts as one of the ends of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) in China’s Belt and Road Initiative (OBOR).