By Mirsaid Ibrahimzade
Significant increase in freight traffic between Azerbaijan and the neighboring countries shows active involvement of the country in the regional projects which help to connect North and South.
The North-South Transport Corridor which is designed to connect Northern Europe with Southeast Asia and includes the railways of Azerbaijan, Iran and Russia, plays major role in this.
Coverage of the transport corridor is impressive - it is a multi-mode network of ship, rail, and road route for moving freight between India, Iran, Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Russia, Central Asia and Europe.
Given that the Corridor targets reducing the delivery time of loads from India to Russia, as well as to Northern and Western Europe, speed issue becomes relevant in this matter.
The corridor which is cited as one of the most promising channels of trade will allow improving transport connectivity between Russia, Central Asia, Iran and India so respective bilateral trade volumes will increase. As an example, a study conducted by the 'Federation of Freight Forwarders’ Associations in India (FFFAI) found out that the route is, 30 percent cheaper and 40 percent shorter than the current traditional route.
The Asian Development Bank (ADB), which holds a share in this project, told local media the bank expects that the average freight speed on the railway Baku-state border with Russia will go up to 60 km/h by 2022.
A 311 km section between Bereket and Uzen cities in Turkmenistan is being financed by the Asian Development Bank (ADB). A memorandum of understanding was signed between ADB and the Turkmenistan government in February 2010, for a $350 million loan as a special fund for technical assistance.
As is known, speedy cargo transportation is very effective for shipping short-lived commodities over longer distances. Based on this, it is easy to assume that increase of the speed will have favorable impact on Azerbaijan and other countries involved in North-South transport corridor, as these countries’ main exports to Russia are agricultural products and they are mainly perishable goods.
“According to 2014 data, which are taken as a base, the average freight speed on the Baku-state border with Russia route within the North-South transport corridor was only 25 km/h. We expect that as a result of the implementation of a number of measures for the development of the railway system of Azerbaijan, the average speed will go up to 60 km/h by 2022,” the ADB noted.
The Bank’s experts also prognosticate a 35 percent growth in freight traffic along the Baku-state border with Georgia and Baku-state border with Iran routes.
Serious measures are taken regarding the part of the North-South International Transport Corridor passing through the territory of Azerbaijan. The construction of 8.3 km of new road of Astara (Azerbaijan) - Astara (Iran) railway line to the Astarachay bridge and 1.4 km of road on the territory of Iran have been completed.
As for forthcoming construction works, negotiations are underway with Iranian side on the construction of Gazvin-Rasht (175 km) section of this corridor.