‘Tatarstan needs new traffic to transport petrochemicals’
The republic is ready to renew railway travel with Uzbekistan, increase the number of flights and open new transport corridors to this country
The 3rd International Russia-Uzbekistan Interregional Cooperation Forum took place in Kazan on 4 October. Different transport and logistic projects were discussed during the event: from large-scale construction of new joint transport corridors to the Indian Ocean to the resumption of passenger flights and trains. Read about how roads can lead to friendship in Realnoe Vremya’s report.
Nowadays Uzbekistan is becoming almost a key partner of Russia in Central Asia. Commodity turnover between Tatarstan and this country is growing too. In 2022, mutual trade topped $290 million. In the first half of 2023, Tatarstan Rais Rustam Minnikhanov said it rose by a third more.
Window to India
“Now Uzbekistan is the biggest economic centre in Central Asia with colossal prospects. It is nearly 40 million people,” noted Secretary General of the International Trans-Eurasian Transportation Coordination Council Gennady Bessonov noted when opening a session Transport and Logistic Partnership: Russia and Uzbekistan in the World of New Chalennges during the 3rd Russia-Uzbekistan Interregional Cooperation Forum. According to him, Russia should certainly be present in this region and develop projects in various areas, including in transport.”
Moreover, Uzbekistan is only in favour of this.
“This is our first visit to Kazan. But we have already discussed a wide range of cooperation issues with the Tatarstan sport minister. We see huge potential to develop cooperation in all the areas: in aviation, railway transport, industrial cooperation, new transport corridors,” Vice Transport Minister of Uzbekistan Zhasurbek Nuriyev claimed during his speech.
According to him, the Central Asian republic would really want to see Russia among members of global transcontinental transport corridor projects.
“Our colleagues and we have already agreed to cooperate on the creation of a new transport multimodal corridor Belarus — Russia — Kazakhstan — Uzbekistan — Afghanistan — Pakistan that gives us access to Indian Ocean ports. It is crucial for the whole region because an alternative way will appear,” claimed Nuriyev.
According to him, a project of a trans-Afghan railway crossing is gaining popularity.
“We actively talking with our colleagues from Pakistan and Afghanistan. We have started field exploration, mapping. We are assessing the project at $7 billion. The cost of one kilometre is $10-11 million,” the vice transport minister of Uzbekistan calculated. And 33 million tonnes can be reached by 2040.
“This freight traffic will comprise of transit,” Nuriyev highlighted.
By his estimates, around 20 million tonnes of freight can pass through this corridor by 2030
“If we compare the project North — South (Russia — Kazakhstan — Turkmenistan — Iran — India), the length of the route is 6,100km. If it is Russia — Iran — India, it is 5,100km. Russia — Azerbaijan — Iran — India is estimated to be 4,900km. Russia — Kazakhstan — Uzbekistan — Pakistan — India is around 4,000km. The length turns out to be considerably shorter,” said Nuriyev.
The absence of infrastructure restrictions is another bonus.
More than the sky
Uzbekistan hopes to cooperate in railways too.
“A railway transport development programme is worthy of attention. A big package of 14 projects for about $1 billion was created within the programme. It envisages renewal of the fleet of long-haul and manoeuvre trains, metro wagons, special mobile units, technological equipment and components, rail purchases and so on, it also works on the signing of an intergovernmental agreement on supply of petrochemicals,” said the Uzbekistan vice minister.
Also, Uzbekistan is restoring the number of flights.
“Flight quotas during the pandemic were around 140 hours a week. This was in 2019. After the pandemic we gradually increased the number reaching 170 hours. Nowadays we already have 230 hours. New residents perform some 130 hours and the Russian side does 100 hours. But being in Kazan we want to tell you about our goal of increaseng the number of flights between Tashkent and Kazan. Now only two flights are operated. We set the goal of increasing this number to seven in the next six months, performing daily flights. Other cities are interested too. It is both Samarkand and Fergana,” claimed Nuriyev.
Tatarstan Minister of Transport and Road Farit Khanifov, in turn, announced a second flight to Samarkand.
“Now Samarkand is a flight a week. There will be two flights from late October,” Khanifov assured us.
Also, in reply to his Uzbek colleague’s petition to resume railway travel between Tashkent and Kazan that was interrupted because of the coronavirus pandemic in March 2020, Khanifov said that the Republic of Tatarstan sent a request to Russian Railways.
“It is underway. I think this topic will be quickly pushed thanks to our joint efforts,” the Tatarstan vice transport minister assured the audience.
Besides passenger transportation “Tatarstan needs railway, river, car transportation to deliver petrochemicals,” added Khanifov.
“The amount of oil and petrochemical freight grows in the republic… About 16 million tonnes of freight is now produced in the Nizhnekamsk hub. 12 million of this amount is exported. We need to increase the number of wagons departing from this hub to 2.500 a day. We see 25 million tonnes of freight very soon. This is why our task is to correctly integrate into only in Russia but also our Central Asian friends’ logistic system,” concluded Khanifov.