Kazakhstan keeps increasing volumes on the Middle Corridor
Kazakhstan’s exports via the Middle Corridor have almost tripled during the first months of 2023, with imports increasing by 22 per cent. As Kazakhstan Railways (KTZ) mentioned, rail transportation along these routes between January and March 2023 grew by 63,7 per cent compared to the same period last year.
To have a better picture, KTZ stated that 433,200 tonnes of goods have been moved along the Middle Corridor for a total of over 4,000 TEUs. This increase, as the company pointed out, is linked to the infrastructure upgrades carried out last year as well as the “changing geopolitical situation”.
Kairat Utyapov, General Director of KTZ Express, provided some specifics of which products are being shipped via the Middle Corridor. Utyapov said that the corridor is being used to transport tomato paste, chemicals, and equipment from China to Southern Europe and Turkey. Concerning goods leaving Kazakhstan, the main types of cargo involved are non-ferrous metals, ferroalloys, lentils, and grain cargoes.
Central Asian countries are embracing the Middle Corridor
The data provided by KTZ for the first three months of 2023 show continuity with the trends set in 2022. In February, the company already stated that the volumes of cargo transported along the Middle Corridor rose by 250 per cent compared to 2021. Increases in traffic along the Middle Corridor were also experienced by Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan Railways claimed that 3,9 million tons of cargo were moved on the route, signalling an increase of over half a million tons compared to 2021.
Moreover, Uzbekistan also deployed its first train on the Middle Corridor at the end of 2022. Loaded with copper, the first train was headed for Turkmensbashi, in Turkmenistan, and then Varna, in Bulgaria, from where it reached Turkey. On the other hand, the Middle Corridor is still struggling to gain popularity in Europe due to issues related to capacity. The route cannot handle significant volumes, and that is what companies in the Old Continent are looking for. This was also confirmed at the transport logistic exhibition in Munich, where RailFreight.com asked various industry players about their thoughts on the Middle Corridor.