Rail freight: Middle Corridor volumes double and keep growing

On 26/06/2023, Railfreight.com reports that cargo volume transited via the Middle Corridor doubled last year, with an estimated amount of 1,7 million tons. Furthermore, for the first five months of this year, cargo traffic via the Middle Corridor has increased by 64 per cent, resulting in a volume accumulation of over 1 million tons.

KTZ announced that with the increasing capacity of this corridor, the volume will be further elevated in the near future, with a goal of 10 million tons on the horizon. This goal won’t be reached without the needed upgrades. Bottlenecks are for example the number of vessels transiting the Caspian Sea, seaport capacity, as well as rail service frequencies, all of which contribute to the synergy of this corridor.

Middle Corridor Acceleration

The Middle Corridor is experiencing accelerated development from stakeholders all around the world. During German President Steinmeier’s visit to Kazakhstan, Rhenus Logistics and Kazakhstan Railways (KTZ) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to further develop the Middle Corridor’s capacity and freight handling. The German firm and Kazakh state-owned company aim to develop transhipment facilities in the Caspian Sea ports of Aktau and Kuryk, logistics centres in the wider Caspian region and a container hub in Aktau.

On the other hand, China also sees the potential of this corridor, given the fact that more than 80 per cent of goods from China and Central Asia to Europe are transported through Kazakhstan. New developments are happening in both directions. On the east side, there is currently a new KTZ terminal under construction in Xi’an. The new terminal will mostly serve the volume from Kazakhstan to China. On the west side, KTZ revealed last week that China is interested in building a container hub in the port of Aktau, with no further information provided.

Deepening connection

All in all, the development of the Middle Corridor will improve the connection between Asia and Europe, given the current political situation. For instance, in an agreement with France in late 2022, the two countries discussed the results of transport via the Middle Corridor so far and the possibility of further growth in the context of the EU’s Global Gateway project, targeting infrastructure investments.

Moreover, most of the Baltic states have turned to Kazakhstan to diversify their railway supply chains after cutting off Russia. One of the latest developments in this field came from Lithuania. Lithuanian Railways signed a memorandum to develop intermodal transport with Central Asian countries, including Kazakhstan, via the Middle Corridor. If everything turns out smoothly, the Middle Corridor could indeed transform Kazakhstan’s logistical role and give the country more possibilities of becoming a true international transport hub for Europe-Asia connection, instead of solely being a transit partner of Russia or China.

More information is available from the Railfreight.com news post here.