KTZ Express: new India-Kazakhstan service via Iran-Turkmenistan

Image: Kazakhstan Railways (KTZ)

Kazakhstan is joining Russia in the quest to develop the eastern branch of the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC). The newest development is that KTZ Express, the multimodal subsidiary of Kazakhstan’s national railway company KTZ, is carrying out the transportation of sesame seeds from India to Kazakhstan, via Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. 

The goods will be moved from the port of Mundra, in western India, to Almaty, in southeastern Kazakhstan. As KTZ stated, this service is part of the development plan for the Kazakhstan-Turkmenistan-Iran rail corridor. This corridor is part of the easter branch of the INSTC, connecting Mumbai with Moscow. However, it is not yet clear whether this service will be implemented on a schedule or if it is a one-time service.

According to KTZ, the estimated travel time for this journey revolves around 20 days. First, the goods will travel via sea from the port of Mundra to reach the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas. From then, the containers will be moved on the rail and sent to Almaty via Iran, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan.

Development of the eastern branch of INSTC

Many players involved in the INSTC are pushing to develop the eastern branch of the corridor. For example, Russian Railways set up a 20 per cent discount for operators that choose to transport goods on the eastern side of the INSTC in December 2022. The discount does come with one condition. It will only be applicable to containers being transported via the Russian-Kazakh border crossings as well as the Bolashak-Serkhetyaka border crossing between Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan.

By eastern branch of the INSTC it is meant the network that connects Russia with the countries of the Caspian basin, the Persian Gulf, and Central, South, and Southeast Asia. The initiative to develop this side of the corridor comes from the fact that the western branch, crossing Armenia and Azerbaijan, can not provide a good enough infrastructure. Moreover, the continuous political tensions between the two countries often pose a risk to effective, long-term solutions.

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Author: Marco Raimondi

Marco Raimondi is an editor of RailFreight.com, the online magazine for rail freight professionals.

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