Middle Corridor set to double traffic and sixfold volumes in 2022

©JSC "NC" Kazakhstan Temir Zholy"

The growing transport demand through the Middle Corridor and the new services launched provide a positive outlook for 2022. A general meeting of the Trans-Caspian International Transport Route (TITR) association forecasted a doubling of container traffic compared to 2021 and a sixfold increase in cargo volumes.

Kazakhstan Railways explained that the doubled container traffic will translate to roughly 50,000 TEUs transported through the Middle Corridor in 2022. On the other hand, the sixfold increase in cargo volumes could mean that the Middle Corridor could see up to 3,2 tons of transported cargo by the end of the year.

KTZ mentioned that during TITR’s general meeting, held in the Turkish capital Ankara, the association’s members concluded that the optimistic forecast also brings forth a set of challenges needing attention and tackling. For this purpose, the association adopted “a complex of joint measures to ensure uninterrupted transportation, taking into account the significant increase in traffic volumes along the route”. However, the measures are not yet known.

Kazakhstan-Turkey cooperation

What is known, though, is that with the opportunity of TITR’s meeting in Ankara, the national railway companies of Turkey and Kazakhstan signed a new cooperation agreement. According to the two parties, the agreement aims “at strengthening cooperation and developing the logistics potential of both countries, which includes using the Kars-Akhalkalaki railway line as a key corridor to Turkey”.

The Kars-Akhalkalaki railway line is part of the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway. With Georgia’s railway network operating with a narrow gauge (1,520 mm), this section is vital. Akhalkalaki is a Georgian town. The railway line between Kars and Akhalkalaki has standard gauge width, making the border crossing more efficient. However, at Akhalkalaki, trains have to change to the narrow gauge again.

Using the kars-Akhalkalaki line as a key corridor to Turkey could mean more investments from the two countries to facilitate more traffic. Nevertheless, Turkey reported that it expects a fourfold increase in the capacity and volume of cargo traffic along this route by 2023”. Given the current situation and the bottlenecks faced in this line with decreased capacity and a track gauge change, it is interesting to see how the two countries will handle the situation.

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Author: Nikos Papatolios

Nikos Papatolios is editor of RailFreight.com, the online magazine for rail freight professionals.

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