India, Russia and Iran Consider Intermodal Route

Iran, Russia and India have revived discussions on a multimodal North-South Transportation Corridor linking Mumbai to the port of Bandar Abbas to Moscow. The 4,000 mile intermodal route would bypass the Suez Canal, cutting weeks off of the sea route transit time from the Arabian Sea to the Baltic.

A first version of the plan 16 years ago routed container shipments to the Caspian Sea port of Olya, near Astrakhan, then transshipped them up the Volga to Russia and thence to eastern Europe. In 2014, the Federation of Freight Forwarders of India tested an alternative passing through Azerbaijan, and found could save as much as $170 per ton over the cost of shipping through the Suez Canal. The Azerbaijan route to Russia would rely on an as-yet-unfinished $1 billion rail link from Iran's rail network to the Azerbaijani border.