First Turkmenistan – China Direct Container Train Arrives

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The first container train to arrive in China directly from Turkmenistan has reached its destination in China’s Xinjiang Province. It was routed via Kazakhstan, according to Turkmenportal.

The train, containing 42 containers loaded with gypsum left the Turkmen Akyayla station, after which it crossed into Kazakhstan, covering a distance of 4150 kilometers to the border with China. The passage of the Kazakhstan section of this route, which is 3450 kilometers, took five days.

This project was implemented jointly by JSC Transport and Logistics Center Turkmenistan and JSC KTZ Express in coordination with Chinese colleagues. The launch of a container line from Turkmenistan to China became possible due to the operation of the Kazakhstan-Turkmenistan-Iran railway, which is one of the branches of the North-South International Transport Corridor (INSTC). The success of the Turkmen-China direct route means that Chinese goods will also be able to access the INSTC via Turkmenistan via opportunities for manufacturing processes combining INSTC sourced products into final products.

The INSTC route connects with Turkmenistan via the countries Turkmenbashi Port on the Caspian Sea. Chinese transportation and logistics companies are already examining the potential for Turkmenistan to develop as a Central Asian transportation hub.

From Turkmenbashi Port goods can be shipped to a variety of destinations, west to Azerbaijan and connection to Trans-Caucasus rail through to Black Sea Ports with Georgia and Turkey, or south to Iran’s Caspian Sea Ports, then transiting south via road, and from next year rail, before exiting at Iran’s Chabahar and Bandar Abbas Ports on the Persian Gulf.  From there, goods can be dispersed across the Middle East, East Africa, India, and South Asia.

China’s rail access to Turkmenistan also gives it access to landlocked Uzbekistan, a rising star in Central Asian economies with important trade agreements with the European Union and UK.

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Chris Devonshire-Ellis is the Chairman of Dezan Shira & Associates. The firm assists British and Foreign Investment into Asia and has 28 offices throughout China, India, the ASEAN nations and Russia. For strategic and business intelligence concerning China’s Belt & Road Initiative please email or visit us at