A freight train on transit through Kazakhstan. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Kazakhstan builds new railway line on Middle Corridor

A freight train on transit through Kazakhstan. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Kazakhstan is building a new railway line to increase its transit potential on the Middle Corridor. It runs from Dostyk near the Chinese border to Moiynty near the Caspian Sea. Construction has officially started, backed by a total investment amount of 1,69 billion euros.

This was announced by the President of Kazakhstan Kassym-Zhomart Tokayev at the 6th Eastern Economic Forum, held in Russia last week. He said that Kazakhstan, as a transit country for goods from Central Europe, has fully proven its economic attractiveness and reliability. Therefore, it has committed to improving infrastructure and handling more transit goods.

Increasing potential

The new railway line is expected to be an upgrade to the Middle Corridor, which runs through Kazakhstan and links to the Caspian Sea, where a sea leg connects to the port of Baku. The Middle Corridor should especially benefit the countries southeast in Europe.

Through modernisation and resolving line bottlenecks the volumes of this corridor should increase. The construction and electrification of the Dostyk-Moiynty line is expected to be completed in 2025. After completion, the capacity of the corridor is expected to increase by five times.

Middle Corridor

The Middle Corridor was established in February 2014, connecting Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey. Its main ports along the Caspian Sea are Baku in Azerbaijan and Aktau in Kazakhstan. In 2019, container traffic between these two ports increased by 71 per cent. In the past three years, the volume of freight in the corridor has increased by as much as 13 times.

The Middle Corridor forms an important alternative for Eurasian traffic. Although it witnessed grwoing volumes, these volumes do not compete with those on the main route via Poland and Belarus. Countries along the route have relatively bad infrastructure and limited capacity, and the transit times are much longer.

A cargo owner revealed to RailFreight.cn that the transit time of the China-Turkey train can sometimes be as long as 70 days, and the return journey can be as long as 90 days. A report issued by the International Union of Railways (UIC) stated that the infrastructure of the line is low in cost, but the transit time is not satisfactory, the market is limited, and it is difficult to compete with the main line in a short time.

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Author: Steven Don

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