The shipment is being made via the North-South corridor through Iran, according to a statement © Sputnik / Aleksandr Kryazhev

Russia has for the first time sent two trains laden with coal to India via the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC), which connects Russia to India via Iran, according to Russia’s national railway company.

A multimodal route that includes a railway, roadway network and seaports, the INSTC spans 7,200km (4,500 miles) from St. Petersburg to the port of Mumbai in India. The corridor is part of Russia’s push to find new transport routes in light of Western sanctions, which have forced it to shift trade flows from Europe to Asia and the Middle East.

Construction of the INSTC started in the early 2000s, but developing it further has taken on a new impetus in light of the restrictions facing Moscow. New Delhi has also touted the route as an alternative to China’s Belt and Road Initiative.

“For the first time, two trains with Kuzbass coal headed to India along the International North-South Transport Corridor. The trains set off from the Kemerovo region. They followed along the eastern branch of the INSTC through Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan to the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas,” Russian Railways said on Monday in its Telegram channel.

The coal will be shipped by sea along the final part of the route from Iran’s port of Bandar Abbas to the Indian port of Mumbai, according to the statement.

India has been ramping up purchases of both coking and thermal coal from Russia since Moscow redirected exports from EU countries and offered substantial discounts to Asian buyers. Despite its efforts to expand renewable energy projects, India continues to rely heavily on coal as its primary source of power generation.

Huge increase in Russian coal exports to India Huge increase in Russian coal exports to India

Consulting firm Yakov and Partners (formerly McKinsey Russia) has projected that India will surpass China as the top buyer of Russian coal within the next decade.

The delivery time for goods from Russia to India via the INSTC is around 23 days, which is much faster than shipping via the Suez Canal, which typically takes up to 45 days, according to Russian Railways.

Moscow is seeking to both ensure interconnectivity throughout the INSTC and launch regular freight shipping lines, President Vladimir Putin has said. The volume of goods shipped via the INSTC is expected to almost triple over the next seven years. The Russian leader has suggested establishing a logistics hub for the corridor on the African coast.

Where India Meets Russia: Follow and share RT India on X and Instagram