BAKU – The trans-Caspian rail route was launched 65 kilometres from Baku in the city of Alyat, a new Azerbaijani seaport on the Caspian Sea, on Aug. 3. The event was critically important for Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, China and other countries, as it provides excellent opportunities for transportation of goods between Asia and Europe.
Azerbaijani Deputy Prime Minister Abid Sharifov and Vice Minister of Transport Arif Askerov, Kazakhstan Temir Zholy President Askar Mamin, Azerbaijan Railway Chairman Dzhavid Gurbanov and Georgian Railways chief Mamuka Bakhtadze participated in the event. They met at the NomadExpress train, traveling the Shikhezi (China)–Dostyk–Aktau (Kazakhstan)–Alyat seaport route and ending in Kishly, a suburb of the city.
The train covered more than 3,500 km from China through Kazakhstan and the Caspian Sea in five days, delivering caustic soda to Azerbaijan. The transport route was created under Kazakhstan’s Nurly Zhol new economy policy and China’s New Silk way programme.
In his remarks, Mamin emphasised that the trans-Caspian route has great development potential, making Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan a bridge between Asia and Europe. He stated that putting the Kars–Akhalkalaki route into operation will give impulse to the development of cargo carriage and become a very important part of the trans-Caspian route.
“The high level of cooperation between Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan became possible thanks to agreements made by the Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan presidents. We plan to organise a container train from China to Istambul through Azerbaijan and Georgia before the end of this year. As of today, major corporations with plants in China and Southeast Asia monitor our cooperation and are very interested in transportation of their goods using the route,” he said.
His Georgian colleague agreed with him and noted Korean and Japanese companies are very interested in the route.
Gurbanov noted the achievement and thanked the Kazakh party for its active participation in the development of the important international project, which will contribute to an increase in cargo transport to the Caucasus states, Turkey and Europe.It is very symbolic that the first train on the route was carried to the city by the first locomotive produced in Astana. TE33А, the fifth generation locomotive of the Evolution series, was supplied under a financial leasing agreement and funded by Kazakhstan Development Bank under export support policy provided under the Nurly Zhol programme. It was the first Kazakh international deal related to supplying goods produced in Kazakhstan and using lease financing.
“Kazakhstan is a reliable supplier of railway machinery, including locomotives, electric locomotives, turnouts and other railroad equipment. We concluded contracts to the amount of $350 million,” said Mamin.
Lokomotiv Kurastyru Zauyty, a locomotive producing plant in Astana created in partnership with GE, plans to export 10 modern locomotives to Azerbaijan. Kazakh-made locomotives are successfully used in Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Ukraine and Turkmenistan.