By Narmina Mammadova
Azerbaijan is a reliable and serious partner for European countries, Chairman of Azerbaijan Railways CJSC Javid Gurbanov said.
He made the remarks at a business meeting on the topic “Railways and digitalization. How artificial intelligence and big data will change the railway industry” held with the organizational support of the Austrian-Azerbaijani Chamber of Commerce (ATAZ) on November 15, Azerbaijan Railways CJSC said in a message.
The meeting was attended by Chairman of the Austrian Federal Railways (OBB) Andreas Mattha, Vice President of the Austrian Federal Economic Chamber Christoph Matznetter, members of the ATAZ, businessmen and representatives of the press.
Matznetter touched upon similar features between Azerbaijan and Austria and noted that both countries are important for the region. He said that the routes passing through Azerbaijan are important in the overland connection of the Chinese market with Europe, as well as in the implementation of cargo transportation in both directions.
Gurbanov spoke about the work done in Azerbaijan on the further development of the railway transport system, which is one of the priority areas of the non-oil sector. It was noted that the wide use of the capabilities of modern information and communication technologies in order to increase the safety of transportation and increase the competitiveness of transport corridors passing through Azerbaijan is one of the main priorities.
He also spoke about the role that the Trans-Caspian International Transport Route, the North-West, the North-South and the South-West transport corridors can play in cargo transportation to Europe.
The agreement on creation of the Trans-Caspian International Transport Route (TITR) was signed by the railway authorities of Azerbaijan, Georgia and Kazakhstan in Baku in April, 2016.
TITR is a project initiated to improve transit potential and development of the countries of the Caspian region. This route runs from China through Kazakhstan, the Caspian Sea, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Turkey and further to Europe.
Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Georgia and Ukraine decided to apply the competitive feed-in tariffs for cargo transportation via the TITR in January, 2016. Single competitive rate was introduced in the framework of the route starting from June 1, 2016 with the view to reduce the costs of international cargo transportation.
About 300,000-400,000 containers are expected to be transported via the Trans-Caspian international transport route by 2020, bringing huge financial profits to Azerbaijan. Growing interest in the transport infrastructures passing through Azerbaijan’s territory is expected to make the country a major transport hub in the region.
The North-South corridor, from India to Helsinki, with a length of 5,000 kilometers is designed to carry more than 20 million tons per year. It is a multimodal route for transportation of passengers and cargo from Russia's St. Petersburg to the Mumbai port. It is designed to carry transit cargo from India, Iran and other Persian Gulf countries to the territory of Russia (the Caspian Sea) and further - to Northern and Western Europe.
Experts believe that the North-South route enjoys several advantages compared to other transport corridors; it is more profitable for each parameter than other alternative routes, such as the Suez Canal-the Mediterranean Sea-Northern Europe and the Turkmenistan-Kazakhstan-Russia-Northern Europe routes.
The preliminary estimates show that at an initial stage, it is planned to transport 6 million tons of cargo via the North-South corridor a year, and 15 to 20 million tons of cargo in the future.
Two very important international transport corridors pass through Azerbaijan - the international North-South corridor connecting India, Iran, Azerbaijan, North-West Russia and the Baltic sea region, as well as the transport corridor Europe-Caucasus-Asia – TRACECA, which is a part of the new Silk Road and creates a strategic link between the Caspian and the Black seas. In this regard, Azerbaijan has excellent prospects for the development of freight transport. The development of railway communication with Iran strengthens the North-South corridor.
The main role of the South – West corridor is the realization of goods transportation between EU countries and India.
This corridor passing through Iran, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Ukraine and Poland reduces time loss for the goods transportation between Europe and India.
The protocol on the development of combination of different modes of transportation via International Transport Corridor South-West between the heads of railways, maritime and ports of Azerbaijan, Iran, Georgia and Ukraine was signed in Baku on 12 January 2016.
Railway departments of Azerbaijan, Ukraine, Iran, Georgia and Poland signed a protocol of the meeting of the Coordinating Committee for the Development of the South-West International Transport Route on September 7, 2017.
Due to the created conditions, it is possible to transport cargo on the route for 15 days, overcoming the distance of more than 7,000 kilometers, delivering goods from India to Europe.
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