Steel trunk: connecting Europe and Asia

Nov 14. Kazpravda

By Rysty Alibekova

Steel trunk: connecting Europe and AsiaIII International Railway Business Forum “Strategic Partnership- 1520: Central Asia” opened in Astana yesterday.

The three-day business forum was attended by over 200 delegates from 17 countries, including the heads of the national railway companies of Russia, Kazakhstan and other countries of the “space-1520 “, operating in the sphere of freight and passenger railway transportations and engineering.

The integration processes in the Eurasian space provide the Central Asian region a unique opportunity to influence the development of the economic centers of Eurasia, including by railway transport.

It discussed the prospects of coherent policy-1520 on the creation of Trans-Eurasian routes, development of container business, new products, competitive transport railway technologies and reform of passenger transport. By the way, the number 1520 means that the official railway gage width in CIS and Baltic countries, Mongolia and Finland is 1 520 mm. This track is also called wide in comparison to the so-called narrow (a width of 1435 mm), which is used, in particular in North America, Europe and China.

… Opening the forum, Prime Minister Serik Akhmetov stressed the need to enhance cooperation between Europe and Asia.

– Kazakhstan due to its geopolitical position at the junction of international transport corridors, and developed transport and communications network, has all prerequisites to become a major logistical link between Europe and Asia, – said the head of the Government.

He recalled that President Nursultan Nazarbayev pays special attention to the development of transit potential of large-scale infrastructure projects, the integration of roads and railways of the region into the international system of transport corridors. President of Kazakhstan proposed the idea of a major project “Kazakhstan – New Silk Road”, which will contribute to the establishment of the republic as a trade, logistics and business hub in the Central Asian region, and a transit bridge between Europe and Asia.

The head of the Cabinet highlighted the importance of such projects in transport sector as the railway lines Zhetygen – Korgas and Uzen – state border with Turkmenistan completed recently and launched in the current year large-scale projects on the construction of railways Zhezkazgan – Beineu and Arkalyk – Shubarkol. According to expert estimate by 2020 the volume of cargo traffic through Kazakhstan will grow to 35 million, and in the future – up to 50 million tons.

S. Akhmetov said that on the President’s instruction a national transportation logistics company- operator is created on the base of the National Company “Kazakhstan Temir Joly”, which will integrate rail, sea, and air and road transportations to ensure delivery of goods on the principle of “door to door”.

Noting that Kazakhstan attaches great importance to strengthening of transport links in the Common Economic Space, the Prime Minister stated, that much work is being done to develop and integrate transport and logistics companies of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan. The implementation of this idea will increase transit capacity between Asia and Europe and the competitiveness of railway transport in the transport market. RK Government has approved mechanisms to develop transport and logistics system in the country. The consistent implementation of these plans, of course, will form a stable system of Euro-Asian transport corridors.

The regional integration of Belarus, Russia and Kazakhstan contributes to the creation of favorable conditions for attracting additional flows to railway traffic, resulting in steady increase in the volume of goods transported by transit.

In his welcome speech, president of the JSC “NC” KTZ ” Askar Mamin cited the following figures: in the first 9 months the total transit volume through Russia and Kazakhstan grew by over 35% compared to the same period last year, which, according to the head of the national company, is high enough.

Further increase of carriages, as well as improving their quality, requires adequate development of the national transport infrastructure. For that the KTZ carries out large scale modernization of the sector, taking steps to increase the national railway network.

President of the JSC “Russian Railways” Vladimir Yakunin supported the idea of Eurasian cooperation. One of the important elements in this cooperation, in his view, is to develop transport corridors.

– The creation of a common transport and logistics company, involving Kazakhstan, Russia and Belarus, in my opinion, is the first embodiment of the idea of economic integration of the three states, – he said. – From this point of view, the creation of a transport and logistics company, a single transport and logistics system for the railway community of our nations is an essential element that must be implemented in accordance with a common network schedule based on a single business plan and business process.

Yakunin said at the forum that the railway companies of the Customs Union’s countries by the end of this year will submit to the governments of Kazakhstan, Russia and Belarus for consideration the documents required for the creation of a single transport company of the CES. The aim of its establishment, according to the head of the Russian Railways, is to ensure the integration of transport processes within the Common Economic Space.