YEREVAN (Arka)—The South Caucasus Railway (SCR), a Russian company operating Armenia’s railroads, will invest 6.5 billion drams (approx.. $14.3 million) next year into upgrading facilities, the company’s CEO Viktor Rebets told a news conference Monday.
Rebets said the investment program’s focus will be on the refurbishment of infrastructure, and its priorities will be track facilities, power systems, signaling, centralization, blocking, and communication systems.
He said the company has invested as much this year as stipulated by the contract and despite a drop in freight volume it decided not to cut on next year’s investment.
The company expects that the freight traffic in 2015 will grow by 0.9 percent, the number of locally transported passengers by 0.6 percent and the number of passengers traveling to neighboring Georgia by 0.1 percent. It also expects its profit to increase by 151.9 million drams. Labor productivity and the median monthly wage are both projected to increase in 2015 by 3.3 percent.
The company said it will work also to improve the company’s position in the transport market, its fiscal management, raise the level of safety on the railway and introduce the automated 1C accounting system.
The South Caucasus Railways is run by Russian Railways. The company bought Armenia’s railway system in 2008 on contract for 30 years, with a right of extension for another 20 years after the first 20 years of operation.
The South Caucasus Railway also plans to become the operator of a railway that Armenia and Iran want to construct to connect their railway systems, Rebets said at the news conference.
In 2012, the Dubai-based Rasia FZE Investment Company was granted a 50-year concession by the Armenian government to build and manage the 305-kilometer railway from Armenia to Iran, to be named the Southern Armenian Railway (SAR). By late 2013 Rasia FZE had developed a feasibility study for the project.
Rebets said that currently plans are being developed that will allow the start of construction. The project is estimated to cost $3.5 billion.
The high cost of the project is due to mountainous terrain through which it is supposed to pass. The 190-mile long railway will have 64 bridges reaching lengths of 12 miles and 60 tunnels up to 63 miles long. The railway is to run from Gagarin Station in Armenia’s Gegharkunik province to Agarak in southern Syunik and may transport up to 25 million containers a year.
According to an Armenian government statement, the Southern Armenia Railway will create the shortest transportation route from the ports of the Black Sea to the ports of the Persian Gulf and establish a major commodities transit corridor between Europe and the Persian Gulf region.”