Stamp of Georgia with Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway

First uninterrupted rail freight journey from Baku to Europe

Stamp of Georgia with Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway

A new unique rail freight service has been launched from Xi’an in China to the Czech capital of Prague. It is a novelty in the sense that it runs uninterrupted from Baku to Europe, thanks to its passage though the Marmaray Tunnel. This tunnel was previously only open to passenger trains. It is another leap forward on the Middle Corridor.

The Marmaray Tunnel is a 13.5km long undersea railway tunnel in Istanbul, Turkey, connecting the European and Asian part of the city. The tunnel consists of two single track tunnels and was traditionally used by passenger trains. Now that freight trains may cross the Bosporus Strait via the tunnel, the train journey from Baku to Europe can be carried out without a single stop, contributing to the efficiency of the service, explained ADY Container LLC, a subsidiary of Azerbaijan Railways Administration.

Leap forward

The container train headed to the Czech Republic is carrying 42 containers of Chinese-made home appliances . The responsible operator is the Middle Corridor (Trans-Caspian International Transportation Route), a consortium existing of the participating countries on this route between China and Europe via Kazachstan, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey.

An important agreement between Azerbaijan’s ADY Container LLC and China’s Xi’an Continental Bridge International Logistics Co. was signed at the 2nd One Belt, One Road Forum, held in Beijing in April 2019. According to ADY Container this was another leap forward, as both companies agreed to launch a total of 30 container trains by the end of 2019, with 20 container trains already launched so far. A targeted volume of 60 thousand TEU’s should be shipped along the Middle Corridor this year, four times more than last year.


One of the new railway lines on the Middle Corridor connects Venlo, a logistics hub in the Netherlands to China. Twice a week a train departs in the direction of China via the Middle Corridor. The first train departed on 5 November 2018.

Venlo is also host to the European Silk Road Summit, which takes place on 26 and 27 November 2019. This is a two-day international event dedicated to the New Silk Road. The Middle Corridor is among the topics on the agenda, with speakers from the port of Baku and Cabooter Group, the terminal operator in Venlo. Registration for this event is still open. The programme and speakers can be found on the website.

Author: Majorie van Leijen

Majorie van Leijen is the editor-in-chief of, the online magazine for rail freight professionals.

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