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A first version of the plan, floated 16 years ago, would have 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 the route and an alternative passing through Azerbaijan, and found that routing cargo through the Caspian region 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 $1bn rail link from Iran's rail network to the Azerbaijani border.
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