Khorgos terminal doubles capacity, a solution to congested borders?
The Khorgos Gateway dry port in Kazakhstan commissioned a new set of 1435mm rail tracks in its facilities. With the new tracks, the busy terminal will now be able to process more transiting trains coming from China. “From 9-10 daily trains, we will now be able to process 19-20 trains per day, doubling the terminal’s capacity,” highlighted KTZ.
The Khorgos gateway terminal is considered Central Asia’s largest dry port. It opened in 2015 and covers an area of 102,8 hectares as part of the Altynkol railway station complex right on the Kazakh-Chinese border. It is a crucial transhipment and train processing location that has recently experienced noticeable growth. Specifically, KTZ explained that the annual increase in cargo handling has averaged 25 per cent in the last three years.
Yerlan Koishibayev, managing director for logistics at KTZ, focused on the terminal’s contribution to improving Kazakhstan’s transit potential. “The launch of the second transhipment facility at the Dry Port of KTZE-Khorgos Gateway LLP will double the terminal’s capacity. I am sure that, in general, it will make a significant contribution to the development of the transport and logistics potential of Kazakhstan and will give a new impetus to the growth of cargo flows along the main transport corridors,” he said.
However, the increased capacity at Khorgos could also signal a new approach to the frequently congested Kazakhstan-China border crossings, causing headaches to the Silk Road industry for quite some time.
Congestion a normal condition
Of course, any infrastructure-related projects, investments and expansions are always good news for the industry. More capacity means more trains, thus more cargo on rail. Yet especially in the context of Kazakhstan-China railway traffic, even the slightest increase in rail capacity could make a big difference.
That is because the two countries have struggled with stuck cargo at border crossings. Kazakhstan is the main gateway of China in multiple directions. Europe, Russia and Central Asia are regions for which Kazakhstan was and is crucial as a rail crossroads.
There have been multiple cases when Silk Road traffic has stagnated on the Chinese-Kazakh border, not always on the Khorgos axis but also in Alashankou and Almaty, for instance. Authorities of the two countries have tried to tackle border stagnation with multiple techniques and approaches. By stopping truck traffic, launching new rail lines, or even considering-without implementing a temporary stoppage of Silk Road trains’ transit.
The situation has improved lately compared to the past. Nevertheless, extra infrastructure like the one commissioned in Khorgos can always prove helpful and provide a solution by allowing more trains to cross the border and be processed faster on their way to other destinations.