The International North South Transportation Corridor (INSTC) connecting Mumbai with St Petersburg and beyond – which has been 17 years in the making – is set to be operationalised from the middle of next month with the first consignment from India to Russia. Although the formal operationalisation of INSTC is planned for mid-January, the corridor will start functioning fully in a few months thereafter, according to people aware of the matter. Hectic preparations are underway to firm up all elements of the corridor in all key stakeholder states, informed officials. A Russian railway operator is expected to play key role in INSTC.
India, Iran and Russia had in September 2000 signed the INSTC agreement to build a corridor to provide the shortest multi-model transportation route linking the Indian Ocean and the Persian Gulf to the Caspian Sea via Iran and St Petersburg. From St Petersburg, North Europe is within easy reach via the Russian Federation. The estimated capacity of the corridor is 20-30 million tonnes of goods per year.