Azerbaijan Railways further upgrades railway system within country
By Rashid Shirinov Azerbaijan Railways continues its work to improve and upgrade the railway system within the country and beyond. Company Head Javid Gurbanov, talking to reports about the success Azerbaijan Railways achieved since early 2016, stated that about 200 kilometers of railways have been built this year.
“Yesterday we opened a new manufacturing base for the construction of railways in Sangachal settlement,” Gurbanov said, noting that the construction and upgrading of Azerbaijani railways will be continued. “We will try to complete the construction of Baku-Ganja high-speed railway until late 2017. The trains’ speed on this railway will reach 100 km/h and this will make it possible to get to the final destination within 3.5-4 hours.”
Azerbaijan Railways CJSC will purchase four more Stadler KISS double-deck electric trains for the Baku-Ganja railway. Gurbanov further mentioned that the construction of 8.3-kilometers-long railway section has been also completed in Azerbaijan’s Astara city within the International North-South Transport Corridor. “Construction of the bridge across the Astarachay River on the border of Azerbaijan and Iran nears the end,” Gurbanov said. “The opening of this bridge will take place in a month, maximum in six weeks, and that will become a strong impetus for the cargo transportations to increase.”
Azerbaijan and Iran are participants of the large and perspective International North-South Transport Corridor, which is meant to connect Northern Europe with Southeast Asia. It is planned to transport 5 million tons of cargo via the North-South corridor per year at the initial stage, and to increase the figure to over 10 million tons in the future. The corridor will have a significant role in reducing transportation costs as well as boosting the volume of trade turnover between Iran and Azerbaijan.
Speaking about the operation of the Baku-Sumgayit train, Gurbanov noted that about 4,000 people daily use the services of the train. “We completely renovated the Baku-Sumgayit rail line. Moreover, we began to repair the Baku ring railway, which will be integrated with the Baku-Sumgayit route,” he added.
Furthermore, modernization of the Baku Railway Station is close to the completion. The main building has been renovated, all the platforms and objects have been reconstructed. “Trading sites, which were spoiling the appearance of the station, will be updated.
There will be an ASAN service point on the second floor of the main building,” said Gurbanov, mentioning that the work will be completed by late 2016. Head of Azerbaijan Railways also spoke about the company’s cooperation in international transportation. “The number of freight wagons from Ukraine passing the territory of Azerbaijan increased more than four times for the year.
Moreover, freight traffic by rail in Azerbaijan increased dramatically.” For comparison, the number of cargo wagons running from Ukraine was 460 in 2015, and this year their number reaches 2,000. “We hope to increase this figure and attract more cargo,” Gurbanov noted. In general, Azerbaijan Railways has transported about 10 million tons of cargo so far.
Also, the company has updated the fleet of locomotives by 30 percent. Azerbaijan Railways has purchased new electric and diesel locomotives and over 3,000 new cars. This enabled to reduce the dependence on neighboring countries.
“Previously, we used the rolling stocks of neighboring countries. Spending 20 Swiss francs (£20) for each of them, we were in negative balance. Now we zeroed that balance and even went into a plus,” Gurbanov mentioned.
Azerbaijani Railways CJSC was established in summer 2009. The current length of railways of Azerbaijan is 2,989 kilometers, while the volume of transportation at the end of 2015 amounted to 18 million tons, of which 9.6 million tons were international. The company’s car park included 19,987 units by the beginning of August 2016.