First container train from China arrives at Baku int'l trade port
By Aynur Karimova
The first container train arrived at Baku International Sea Trade Port from China via the Trans-Caspian international transport route on August 3.
It became possible as a result of efforts by the Coordination Committee of Trans-Caspian international transport route created in October 2013.
The train, consisting of 82 containers and 41 platforms, departed from China’s Shihezi city on July 28. It traveled more than 4,000 kilometers, passed through the Kazakh port of Aktau.
Kazakhstan Temyr Zholy, China Railways, Azerbaijan Railways, Azerbaijan Caspian Shipping Company and Baku International Sea Trade Port are overseeing the project.
Addressing the event, Javid Gurbanov, the head of Azerbaijan Railways CJSC, said that approximately 300,000-400,000 containers will be transported via this route by 2020, bringing hundreds of millions of manats in profit to Azerbaijan.
He also noted that Kazakhstan will supply 10 diesel locomotives to Azerbaijan.
“The first diesel locomotive has arrived today and we are awaiting nine more,” said Gurbanov.
He added that these trains are manufactured in Kazakhstan jointly with the U.S.
Azerbaijan's Deputy Prime Minister Abid Sharifov, in turn, informed attendees about the importance of projects like the Trans-Caspian international transport route for the region.
"Today's event is distinguished by its importance and is the result of negotiations and works carried out over the past year and a half," Deputy Transport Minister of Azerbaijan, Arif Askerov said in his remarks.
According to him, Azerbaijan pays significant attention to regional cooperation.
In his remarks, Askar Mamin, the President of Kazakhstan Temir Zholy, said that Azerbaijan Railways JSC can gain profits worth $600-700 million from the transit traffic by 2020.
He also mentioned a high degree of potential for the Trans-Caspian international transport route.
"Today a significant event took place. We believe that this is the first sign of a larger project. We estimate its potential at over 300,000 containers by 2020. This is very high dynamics," he said.
He believes that this route will allow for the full realization of the transit prospects of Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan.
Mamin also added that the same container from China through Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan would be delivered to Georgia and Turkey in the near future.
"It is symbolic that the first container is delivered to Azerbaijan with the first locomotive. Cooperation in the field of mechanical engineering between Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan is at a high level. Kazakhstan is a reliable supplier of engineering products, including diesel locomotives, electric locomotives, etc. We hope to continue cooperation in this field and raise it to a higher level," he said.
The working group of the Coordination Committee of the Trans-Caspian international transport route held its first meeting in Baku in January 2015, and the parties reached an agreement on the adoption of measures for organizing container service on the China-Kazakhstan-Azerbaijan-Georgia-Turkey route with the use of the new Zhezkazgan-Beineu railway lines, the capacity of Kazakhstan's Aktau sea port, as well as the Kars-Akhalkalaki railway line which is under construction made possible through the creation of favorable tariff conditions.
The project envisages the involvement of transit and foreign trade cargos, as well as application of competitive single railway tariffs in order to increase cargo transportation.
The launch of this route will give significant impetus to the improvement of the transit and export prospects of the member countries and the increase of the international competitiveness of the Trans-Caspian international transport route.
The Trans-Caspian international transport enjoys an opportunity to become attractive and profitable for consignors from European countries.
Aynur Karimova is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow her on Twitter: @Aynur_Karimova
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