Development of container traffic on the Azerbaijani Railways


Azerbaijani Railways CJSC and its subsidiary – ADY Container LLC are working together to diversify and expand transit capabilities of the Republic of Azerbaijan.

In the face of the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic to the global supply chain system, the share of container operations in the total freight traffic began to rise in the latter half of 2020. Azerbaijan is now joining forces with its partners in a phased effort to build up the number of container trains travelling to the People’s Republic of China and back.

The key role in this process is played by the line Baku – Tbilisi – Kars (BTK) that is one of the essential elements of the Trans-Caspian International Transport Corridor (the Middle Corridor), and of the New Silk Road. Since BTK’s launch in October 2017, the volume of freight traffic has surged without a break, to see the line carry its 15-thousandth container as soon as in December 2020. All in all, BTK carried 224,944 tons of freight in 2020, twice the amount of the previous year. Notably, containerised freight accounts for 77.5% of this volume.

One of the key triggers for the accelerated expansion of container operations was the launch of trains carrying Turkish exports to China. At the end of the last year, two block trains of 42 containers each transited Azerbaijan on their way from Turkey to China. Both trains successfully made it to Xi’an, one of China’s largest transport hubs. The first one reached the Kazakhstan-China border in record time, 10 days after the departure. Container trains carrying Turkish goods to China will have regular scheduled runs twice a month.

At the same time, the westward freight flows from China stays strong. 2021’s first container train from the PRC has already arrived in Azerbaijan. Carrying fifty 40-foot containers with mixed freight, the train covered the distance from Qingdao to Baku in 15 days. The containers were delivered from the Kazakhstani port of Aktau to Azerbaijan’s port Alyat by Beket Ata feeder vessel. It is planned that up to 50 container block trains would arrive to Azerbaijan from China before the end of 2021.

Combined railway-marine container operations between Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan have proved to be an efficient mechanism on this route. According to the agreements between the countries of the Caspian region, in 2021 the Beket Ata feeder vessel will travel between seaports of Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan twice a month. In addition, ferry boats will also be used to tranship wagons and containers on the Aktau-Baku line.

As part of the transport route diversification policy, Azerbaijani Railways are helping to boost freight traffic between Russia and Turkey. Thus, in the early 2021 the first container train from Turkey reached Russia running on the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars line.

The container train carried 16 forty-foot containers with household goods from the city of Ankara to the Kaluga Oblast. This transport operation, achieving a reduction in logistic costs and travel time, has become a significant step toward simplifying the exchange of goods between the two countries. Azerbaijan plans to set up a systematic operation of such trains in both directions.

ADY Container LLC, a subsidiary of Azerbaijani Railways CJSC, has joined forces with its partners to make new offers to its clients through creating state-of-the-art logistic products that have incentivized a growing number of exporters to prefer railway transport.