Kazakh Rail Transport Up Despite Loss Of Routes Through To EU Via Russia

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Growth in Covid traffic resumptions may be masking EU downturn issues

Kazakh railways, a major conduit of freight between China and the EU via Russia until March this year, has nonetheless reported a rise in both freight volume and revenues in the first four months of 2022. Figures though are too early to evaluate this as a trend or if volumes will later drop, although rail can still be sent to the EU via Caspian Sea connectivity between the Kazakh port at Aqtau and Azerbaijan’s Baku.

Kazakhstan’s railways transported 140.3 million tons of cargo and baggage from January through April this year, 4.3% more than in the same period of 2021. The largest volume of cargo and baggage transportation was recorded in the Karaganda, Aktobe regions and the capital, Nur-Sultan, while the smallest volume was recorded in the West Kazakhstan region. That last data suggests that Kazakh freight to the EU is declining, although it will require 2022 H1 results to properly evaluate this.

Domestically, rail revenues have increased from January through April 2022, according to Finprom. These reached 400.6 billion tenge (US$890 million), up 15.3% over the same period in 2021, and were mainly received through cargo transportation, while 25.2 billion tenge (US$56 million) accounted for passenger traffic. Passenger traffic was also up 36.9% over a year earlier, as Covid recovery allows more travel and trade opportunities.

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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 silkroad@dezshira.com or visit us at www.dezshira.com