New China-Europe rail links emerge in the shadow of war

Source: The Loadstar
Date: 6th November 2023

Interest in the Middle Corridor (MC) rail freight connection between China and Europe has stepped up a notch with news of developments in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan.

Construction commenced last week on a new rail logistics terminal in Almaty, being developed by Kazakh national rail operator KTZ and China’s Xi’an Dry Port, with the intention to cater for increasing demand for capacity by e-commerce shippers.

Development of the facility comes on the heels of a marked increase in Middle Corridor rail freight, with KTZ alone recording an 86% year-on-year upswing in its volumes.

China and Kazakhstan are keen to build on this, particularly given the boost the MC has received from supply chain operators looking to remodel their rail activity away from Russia, with the two states having agreed to boost volumes to 27.8m tonnes next year.

Connecting China and Europe via the Caspian, South Caucasus and Turkey, Kazakh president said the MC was the world’s “main connecting link”.

Alongside developments in Kazakhstan, it appears efforts to bolster the Uzbek rail market are also in the works.

One reliable source mentioned that they have a firm eye on the rail developments, with a planned China-Kyrgyzstan-Uzbekistan rail project that would result in the shortest link between the Asian giant and Europe and the Middle East, due for completion in 2025.

However, recent reports have questioned the viability of this timeframe being reached, amid concerns that construction, while prepped to go, is being held up by funding issues.

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