A train carrying 36 containers has entered Iran, the first intermodal service between Russia and Saudi Arabia to be launched following a meeting between the heads of Russian Railways (RZD) and the Iranian Islamic Republic Railways (RAI) in August.

The train entered Iran at Incheh Borun on the border with Turkmenistan. It is now travelling through Iran to the port of Bandar Abbas, on the Persian Gulf, where the containers will be loaded onto a ship for the last leg of the journey to Saudi Arabia.

The train had travelled via the North-South International Transport Corridor from Formacheva via Ak-Yayla, Turkmenistan, to Incheh Borun, Iran, which RIA says reduces transit times by several days and shipment costs by nearly half.

During the meeting on August 2, RAI president and Iran’s deputy minister of roads and urban development, Dr Seyed Miad Salehi, announced a goal of increasing freight carried from Russia via Iran to destinations across Asia. This will include giving priority to Russian freight, with a transit time through Iran of three to five days.

RZD vice-president, Mr Surgey Pavlov, said Iran was currently the only route for Russian freight bound for India.