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Advance International rebuilds gateway for Iranian Cargoes

Iraq: Wednesday, March 01 - 2006 @ 12:12

Astara, on the Azerbaijan-Iran border in the south-western corner of the Caspian Sea, offers an alternative to long-haul trucking, or the more circuitous and limited rail and water routes.

Cargo moved by rail from Western Europe can reach Astara in about 15 days, or 5-10 days from Russia and the CIS countries. From Astara, it will be despatched to final destinations throughout Iran by road.

Cargo can be booked direct through the Astara Terminal office and thorough documentation is available. Transit to Iraq and other countries in the Persian Gulf is also possible.

Major investment has gone into the Astara Terminal following two years of discussions with the Azerbaijan Ministry of Roads and Transport, and the State Railway.

Operation of the terminal has been taken over by a new company, Astara Transit Terminal, in which Advance International is a 50% shareholder. It offers 6,000 sq m of warehousing, 120,000 sq m of open storage and four sidings, directly connected to the warehousing area.

The terminal can handle all types of cargo, including break bulk, 20′ and 40′ containers (including heavy lift) and outsize cargoes up to 120 tonnes, within the rail loading gauge.

New offices and an operations centre have been built, with the latest communications and Internet connections.

Advance International’s President and CEO Jawad Kamel said: “Before its break-up, the former Soviet Union was a main supply corridor by rail from Western Europe to Iran via the Soviet-Iranian border at Djulfa; at its peak moving over 800 rail wagons a day.

“However, the war between Azerbaijan and Armenia disrupted this route and the railway through Azerbaijan to Djulfa was eventually destroyed.

“Cargo had to be re-routed, either by sea to the Iranian ports of Bandar Abbas and Bandar Immam Khomeini, or by road via Turkey.

“Other alternatives were by rail via Russia to the Caspian Sea port of Astrakhan and then by conventional shipping to the Iranian port of Bandar Anzali or, during May to October only, the Volga River.

“There is also a very long rail route from Russia via Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan to the Iranian border where transhipment could be made from Russian broad gauge to Iranian standard gauge rail wagons.

“All of these alternatives are either more costly, or not as efficient.

“Shippers in Iran are seeking more freight capacity on routes to and from Europe. Business is booming and the new Astara Terminal heralds the return of a vital Central Asian transport artery.”

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Wednesday, March 1- 2006 @ 12:12 UAE local time (GMT+4) Replication or redistribution in whole or in part is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Mediaquest FZ LLC.

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