Full steam ahead for major expansion of Eurasian rail freight traffic

   Release date: 06/03/2024     Hits: 8150    Comment: 0    
Note: Eurasian rail freight services continue to expand, as volumes between Azerbaijan and Iran surge and China, Kazakhstan an

Eurasian rail freight services continue to expand, as volumes between Azerbaijan and Iran surge and China, Kazakhstan and Russia plan a new hub.

The director general of Iran’s North Railway Administration, Gholam-Hossein Valadi, told news outlets freight on the Iran-Azerbaijan line had climbed 28% in the 11 months to February, and he had expectations for full-year growth outstripping 2022's record year.

Mr Valadi said that between March 2023 and February 2024, some 645,000 tonnes had travelled by rail between the two countries against 501,000 tonnes in the preceding year.

Precise details of volumes appear somewhat murky, reports suggesting 206,000 tonnes had been imported into Iran from Azerbaijan (a rise of 58% year on year), while Iranian export figures were limited to those from the Astara Rail Terminal (167,000 tonnes).

Furthermore, limited information was forthcoming on the make-up of these volumes, although multiple reports cited perishables as well as cement, chemicals, and tiles.

The route between the countries is a key leg of the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC), which Iranian vice president Mohammad Mokhber described as “important and strategic” for the region, during a meeting with Russia’s deputy prime minister, Alexander Novak, during his visit to Tehran last week.

Adding to the prospect of widening railfreight links in Eurasia are announcements in the past week of two major developments: a Moscow hub for services connecting China, Kazakhstan and Russia; and it was reported that deputy minister of transport Maksat Kalialparov had confirmed Kazakhstan was also planning a joint-venture with Russia and Turkmenistan.

Kazakhstan has been one of the key proponents of the INSTC, as it looks to become a regional transit hub for railfreight volumes out of China into Iran and Russia, and also on into Europe.

Certainly the route is showing (and forecasting) positive momentum, with volumes up 4% last year, to 2.1m tonnes, and expectations that they will hit 10m tonnes a year by 2027.


 
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