Finland launches first freight train from China via Azerbaijan
By Ayya Lmahamad
On May 10, Finnish largest freight operator Nurminen Logistics announced the launch of the first container route from China bypassing Russia.
“Nurminen Logistics' first full-size container train departed today, May 10, 2022, from Chongqing, China, on the new southern trans-Caspian route,” the company reported.
The route starts from China and passes through Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Romania to Central Europe. The company built the route in two months from scratch in cooperation with Kazakh railroads. It should be noted that earlier, on March 17, the company temporarily closed its office in Russia.
“The new route is in great demand. The next train, which will depart on May 25, is already nearly full, with only a few seats remaining. Weekly departures are scheduled to begin in June,” the company reported.
To recall, earlier Nurminen Logistics announced its intention to develop the Trans-Caspian International Transport Route, and on March 16, signed a commercial use agreement with Kazakh State Railways.
The issue of logistics today is not only an economic issue but even more of a geopolitical one. Against the backdrop of recent global events, the Trans-Caspian route, which combines rail and maritime transport, perfectly suits the needs of modern transportation chains.
Nowadays, transport routes through the South Caucasus are becoming increasingly popular as more countries seek ways to bypass Russia. In this context, Azerbaijan’s role as a regional transportation hub is irreplaceable, as different transportation routes, such as Baku-Tbilisi-Kars, North-South corridor, Trans-Caspian international transport route, and the new Silk Road, pass through Azerbaijan.
On April 13, China also launched a railway route to Germany, allowing trains to bypass Russia. The route crosses the Caspian and Black Seas by rail and sea, passing through Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Romania, Hungary, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic.
Moreover, earlier it was reported that the representative office of German company Hellmann Worldwide Logistics in Azerbaijan together with its partners is launching a block train from China to Europe in transit through Azerbaijan. The block train will depart from the Chinese city of Suzhou to the border of Kazakhstan by rail, and then will be loaded and shipped from Aktau port to the port of Baku. It is worth noting that the block train will deliver cargo not only for transit to Europe but also for the domestic market of Azerbaijan.
It was already noted that Azerbaijan’s transit along the route of the New Silk Road is becoming increasingly popular, and the significance of the North-South corridor for Russia is difficult to overestimate now, especially in light of the sanctions.
Taking a strategic central position between Europe and China and having developed aviation, rail, pipeline, and maritime infrastructure, Azerbaijan is becoming a new leading logistics center in the reorganization of global supply chains in Eurasia.
We should note that the Trans-Caspian transport route is a vital trans-Eurasian corridor that runs through the South Caucasus. The route begins in Southeast Asia and China and travels to Europe via Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Turkey. It is one of the new Silk Road routes, the Middle Corridor of the 'One Belt, One Road' project. During the crisis, this transport corridor proved to be the most profitable, safest, reliable, and stable. As a result, this corridor, which runs through Azerbaijan, is attracting the attention of an increasing number of exporters and importers.
Given the situation, Azerbaijan has the potential to become one of the transport and logistics hubs through which freight traffic will pass.
Ayya Lmahamad is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow her on Twitter: @AyyaLmahamad
Follow us on Twitter @AzerNewsAz