By Sara Israfilbayova
Baku hosts transport conference titled “Azerbaijan: Bridge to Eurasia” on December 6.
Addressing the conference, First Deputy Chairman of Azerbaijan Railways CJSC Alirza Suleymanov said that Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey continue to optimize tariffs for transportation along the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway, launched in October as part of the East-West corridor.
He said that at present, Azerbaijan is the leader in transport sector in the South Caucasus region.
“Over the past years, Azerbaijan has been rapidly developing in all spheres of economy, significant transformations have been taking place in the transport sector of the country, and the Azerbaijan Railways CJSC is actively involved in this process,” Suleymanov said.
He went on to say that economic development, as well as convenient geographical location of Azerbaijan, allows the country to implement major transport projects, and touched upon such projects as the North-South and East-West transport corridors connecting China with and the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars (BTK) railway.
The BTK railway was constructed on the basis a Georgian-Azerbaijani-Turkish intergovernmental agreement. It is expected that by 2020, the turnover between China and Europe will exceed 300,000 containers per year, and Azerbaijan, through the BTK railway, will be involved in the global transport system.
The North-South transportation corridor is meant to connect Northern Europe to South-East Asia and has a strategic importance for the region. It will serve as a link connecting the railways of Azerbaijan, Iran and Russia.
At the initial stage, the North-South corridor will transport 5 million tons of cargo per year with further expansion of transportation to over 10 million tons. Along with making a great contribution to the diversification of Azerbaijan's economy the project is expected to turn the country into a major transport hub.
The project, which is considered to be a strategically important and advantageous in terms of time of transit cargo transportation, is also expected to bring great economic benefits. The route, part of which will pass along the western coast of the Caspian Sea, from Russia to Iran through Azerbaijan enjoys several advantages compared to other transport such as Suez Canal-the Mediterranean Sea-Northern Europe and the Turkmenistan-Kazakhstan-Russia-Northern Europe routes.
Suleymanov also spoke about the implementation of the International North-South Transport Corridor project and noted that the importance of Azerbaijan as a transport hub will continue to grow.
“The work on creation of conditions for increasing the transit potential will continue,” he said. “Azerbaijan will do everything possible to offer new logistics services in the transportation services market.”
In turn, Rashad Majidov, commercial director of ADY Konteyner said that the company plans to double the share of railway container cargo transportation in the total volume of cargo transportation in Azerbaijan by the end of 2018, adding that in total it is planned to transport about 15,000 containers in 2018.
The commercial director said that the second train consisting of 19 containers, which was sent from Turkey’s Mersin province via the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars (BTK) railway, is currently crossing the Caspian Sea on a train ferry.
He also noted that in November, an agreement was reached to send a container train from Iran’s Astara to Vorsino station in Russia along the International North-South Transport Corridor once the construction of the Iranian section of the railway is completed.
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