The North-South Transnational Rail Corridor connecting Kazakhstan to Iran via Turkmenistan will be opened today. A great ceremony is expected to be held with the participation of the presidents of the three countries.
The stretch of 908 km starts at Uzen in Kazakhstan(120 km), goes through Gyzylgaya-Bereket-Etrek in Turkmenistan (700 km) and ends at Gorgan in Iran (88 km).
This line is expected to cause a shift to railway from truck by connecting all important ports/terminals of the region.
Uzen in Kazakhstan is connected with Aktau, Kazakhstani port at Caspian Sea. Kazahkstan recently opened new railway
connections within the country which shortens the distance between Aktau and China border. Aktau has a very strong ferry connection to Azerbajian.
Bereket in Turkmenistan will be the crossroad for Trans-Caspian Railway (connecting Turkmenbashi at Caspian Sea to Uzbekistan, Eastern Kazakhstan and China) and North-South Transnational Railway. City may play an important role in this route with a large locomotive repair depot and a modern freight terminal. Turkmenistan is constructing a huge port at Turkmenbashi, and is also connected to Azerbajian via ferry service.
Gorgan in Iran is already connected to Iran’s national rail network, which enables transportation between Central Asia and Persian Gulf. The connection will shorten the route by 400 km, and reduce freight transport time from 45-60 days at present to 25-30 days.
13 million tons of grain is being exported annually from Kazakhstan to Persian Gulf countries. This railway corridor is expected to get 3 million tons from that traffic in first phase. By the completion of the whole project, 10-12 million tons of cargo is expected to be transported on this line.
The line has also political impacts in region. Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan will have an alternative connection to ocean bypassing Russia. And Iran may lessen the effect of sanctions by being a transport node for transit loads.