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Azerbaijan Upgrades Rail Cargo Terminal to Boost North-South Shipments

By Gunay Hajiyeva May 17, 2024

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The renovated Astara Terminal in the Astara district of Azerbaijan, May 15, 2024 / Azerbaijan Railways

Azerbaijan Railways (ADY) has successfully completed the reconstruction of the cargo yard located in the Astara region of Azerbaijan to ensure the faster handling of significantly increasing cargo trans-shipments along the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC).

According to the Railways press service, the cargo warehouse was renovated in line with modern standards and equipped with the necessary technology to ensure safe and sustainable operations. The area is enclosed by barbed wire, 54 mobile and stationary security cameras installed, full lighting provided, and 24-hour security is ensured. In addition, all other organizational issues have been resolved. Scales are also installed at the terminal to weigh incoming cargo.

A Customs post has been established under the guidance of the State Customs Committee of Azerbaijan at the upgraded Astara Terminal, which spans 5.5 hectares. High-speed internet lines have been installed at the checkpoint, and all necessary equipment and computers have been set up.

The terminal offers a new service package to forwarding companies, including multimodal transportation services. Cargo entering the terminal under Customs control is transshipped and quickly dispatched to its destination. One of the main advantages of the terminal is the application of discounted tariffs for cargo owners for the transportation and transshipment of accepted cargo.

According to preliminary estimates, the operation of the renovated Astara Terminal will increase transit cargo transportation along the North-South route by 10-15% by the end of this year. Currently, wood cargoes transited through Azerbaijan on the INSTC account for the largest share of the accepted cargo, making up approximately 40% of the total turnover. Grain and grain products take the back seat, with a 35% share.

The multimodal transportation services along the INSTC have so far been carried out only at ADY's terminal in Astara, Iran. The agreement on the construction of this terminal was signed in 2017, and transshipment operations commenced in 2018.

The terminal is expected to start full operations by the end of this year. After the Astara-Rasht railway line in Iran is put into operation, the volume of transit cargo accepted through both Astara terminals is expected to grow significantly.

From 2018 to 2023, more than 2.5 million tons of cargo was transshipped at the Astara Terminal in Iran, operated by Astara Terminal LLC, a subsidiary of ADY. During the corresponding period, the annual volume of transshipped cargo more than tripled, from 211,789 tons in 2018 to 692,402 tons in 2023. The figures recorded in 2023 were 48% higher than in 2022. In the first four months of 2024, 284,688 tons of cargo was transshipped at this terminal, resulting in a 14% year-on-year (YoY) growth.

ADY's transit cargo transportation reached 2,517,000 tons in January-April 2024, showing a 14% YoY growth. During the same period, the volume of cargo transportation along the INSTC increased by 29% compared to the first four months of last year, reaching 260,000 tons.