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Iran : Business sectors

Rail Plans are being drawn up for a railway line between Iran and Azerbaijan to create an unbroken freight route between Russia and India.

Talks between the Azeri and Iranian governments have started on a route that is expected to join the existing line at Qazvin in northern Iran and head north east via Rasht and Ardibil.

Azeri officials are still deciding whether tthe line will run directly to the Azeri city of Imishli, which would involve some tunnelling, or veer east to the city of Astora on the Caspian coast, which would require 10 rail tunnels. A decision is expected by the end of the year.

Russia and India would benefit from a cheaper trade route available all year round, unlike the Caspian Sea which freezes for up five months a year.

They are expected to pump vast sums of money into the scheme.

Other projects include a major new rail line from Mashad in the north east to Kerman in the south east and electrification of existing railways.

Metros are already under construction in the cities of Tehran, Shiraz and Esfahan.

Roads and bridges Iran has had capability to build its own roads and bridges but there are many bridge and tunnelling projects on the drawing board needing new technology from outside.

Contractors Kushar and Chaussee want a foreign consultant to help propose a design concept for a 2km bridge over the great salt lake at Rezaeih in the north west of Iran near the Turkish/Azeri border.

Other projects include the proposed north road from Tehran to the Caspian Sea involving special tunnelling work through the Alborz mountains, and a World Bank funded road tunnel east of Tehran.

Ports Iran's container ports are nowhere near big enough to cater for all the imports that are now needed. Its biggest port, Bandar Abbas on the Persian Gulf, can take 24 ships and has plans for expansion.

Many of Iran's airports are also expanding and a new airport in Tehran - Imam Khomeini International (IKIA) is nearly finished.

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