Kazakhstan freight conference

KAZAKHSTAN: Freight forwarders, operators and wagon owners have called for reforms to facilitate the increased use of containers for domestic and international rail freight traffic.

Following a recent rail industry meeting held in Almaty, logistics group PTC Holding said containerisation is a global trend, but is being held back in Kazakhstan by ‘unreasonably expensive’ tariffs, a shortage of wagons and the lack of systems for container control, repair and maintenance.

Kazakhstan container terminal (Photo PTC Holding) (2)

The company said sending a tonne of freight such as grain in a container can be 2½ times more expensive than using a covered wagon, and associated costs can raise the cost to five times the price.

In contrast, in neighbouring Russia the cost of sending a container by rail is almost equal and sometimes lower than the cost of using a conventional wagon, while China gives preference to containerised traffic.

Participants in the meeting proposed a number of measures to stimulate containerisation.

  • tariff reform to make the cost of using containers similar to conventional wagons;
  • providing container maintenance, repair and loading facilities either through national railway KTZ or the private sector;
  • providing container traffic with equal access to freight facilities including at Dostyk and Altynkol on the Chinese border;
  • creating a single document for the domestic and international multimodal transport and simplifying procedures when dealing with the customs authorities and the Ministry of Agriculture.

Kazakhstan container terminal (Photo: PTC Holding

PTC owns the Dostyk TransTerminal container facility at the break of gauge on the border with China. The company said overall containerised transit traffic between China and Europe via Kazakhstan in both directions has seen rapid growth despite the coronavirus pandemic, increasing by 32% to 876 000 TEU in 2020 and a further 22% to 1 066 000 TEU in 2021.