The transit potential of Kazakhstan and the business opportunities to earn on the transportation of goods from China to the countries of Europe, Central Asia and Russia are estimated to be quite high.
However, for their implementation in practice requires sufficiently large investments in the creation of infrastructure capable of ensuring the rapid passage of goods through the border «junctions» and thus attract a large number of market players. Such an infrastructure project became the railway Dostyk TransTerminal near the station «Dostyk», built by the Kazakh company PTC Holding in mid-2021.
The idea of building a terminal for transhipment of containerized cargo near the station «Dos-tyk» originated in PTC Holding back in 2018: already then it was obvious that there was a shortage of capacity for transhipment of goods from Chinese narrow (1,435 mm) railway gauge to wide (1,520 mm)through which the cargo passes through Kazakhstan.
Further developments confirmed the need for such a terminal at the border crossing: in 2019, transit container traffic through Kazakhstan increased to 664 thousand. DFE (Twenty-foot equivalent, conventional unit of measurement of vehicle capacity for containerized goods). And in 2020, despite the pandemic, through Kazakhstan was overflowed 876 thousand. DFE.
In 2021, the volume of containerized freight transportation by rail continued to increase to 1 million 066 thousand. TEU – and part of this volume passed through Dostyk TransTerminal, in the construction of the first stage of which PTC Holding invested 6.1 billion tenge. The capacity of the first stage was 160 thousand. DFE, from June 2021 to June 2022 through Dostyk TransTerminal was overhauled 129 thousand. DFE. And in 2021, the owners of the new terminal began to arm its second stage, in which 9.2 billion tenge was invested. The new project not only doubled the capacity of the terminal, bringing them to 320 thousand. DFE per year, but also allowed to unload the master-level railway tracks at the station «Dostyk» due to the construction of a separate railway crossing with receiving and sending routes.
How to avoid traffic jams on «Dostyk»
«Now both the entrance of laden carriages on the narrow gauge from the Chinese side, and exit on the wide gauge goes through the station «Dos-tyk», there go not only containers, but also universal rolling stock, so there is no sense to do a quick overload, – Timur Karabayev, Chairman of the Board of PTC Holding believes. – Cars still risk getting stuck in the dispatch station: here came the understanding of what you need to do through technology by building their own access roads to increase the rate of congestion. We have built these paths and just recently received the news that the act of their commissioning has been accepted, there are small conciliation procedures, I think, in the next month this work will be completed, after which we will actively use this trip».
Investments in the construction of new railway tracks with a length of more than 13 kilometers amounted to another 8.2 billion tenge, thus, the total costs of a private company to build the terminal and its infrastructure amounted to 23.5 billion tenge. As a result, at the station «Dostyk» there was a platform where you can not only quickly pass containers from one track to another, but also to form monotrains for one shipper thanks to the ability to store up to 1,200 containers at a time on Dostyk TransTerminal platforms. Also monotrains will be able to be formed for one destination station, which operates several terminals – on Dostyk TransTerminal at the request of the customer can form different trains for each of them for the purpose, so that at the final point it is not necessary to drag the cars from the same convoy on different deadlocks.
All these advantages of the new terminal have already attracted the attention of many foreign companies, the largest volume of cargo (115 thousand. DFE) was transported under the projects of OTLK EPA – Eurasian railway alliance of Kazakh, Russian and Belarusian railways. PTC Cargo, a subsidiary of PTC Holding, which manages the terminal, delivered 14,000 more. TEU. The geography of PTC Cargo’s own projects, implemented in partnership with Russian companies «Transcontainer» and «Logbox», is quite diverse. In the direction of the Moscow railway hub for the year 9.4 thousand were sent. DFE, Europe – 3.1 thousand. DFE, Uzbekistan – 1.3 thousand. DFE, another 0.2 thousand. DFE, Kazakh goods sent by containers for import during the current year. At the same time, private companies are increasingly interested in the possibilities of the Kazakh terminal.
If we look at the results of the work of our terminal from June 2021 to April 2022, we will see the prevalence of OTLC projects there, – says PTC Cargo CEO Olzhas Shilterhanov. – Then out of 106 thousand. DFE on the railway alliance of three countries had 95.5 thousand, that is more than 80% of the total volume. And now, if you take the results of June by June, that ratio is already 60 by 40%. Most importantly, such redistribution does not come at the expense of OTLC but of constant growth by other operators. And for us this is a very important point – we do not lose volumes on the part of our «anchor» client, at the same time we build up the portfolio of orders from other market structures, find new partners. And if this story continues, we will need to think about the construction of Release 3 of Dostyk TransTerminal.
Why PTC Holding its «daughter» in China
According to the main investor of the project – PTC Holding, the third stage of the terminal should be built by 2025. At the same time, the transit container traffic through Kazakhstan will be constantly increased.
For example, Minister of Industry and Infrastructure Development of Kazakhstan Kairbek Uskenbayev predicts that in the current year the volume of transit traffic by rail will increase to 1,100 thousand. DFE against 1,066 thousand. DFE last year. And the total volume of transit traffic of all types of rolling stock in 2022 will grow to 22.1 million tons, compared to 21 million tons a year earlier.
PTC Cargo’s specialists claim that this trend is already taking a very visible form: while in the first 10 months of Dostyk TransTerminal’s operation through it was over 106.7 thousand. TEU, that is, an average of 10.67 thousand. TEU per month, then by June the monthly indicator has grown to 10.75 thousand. TEU.
«If earlier through the station «Dostyk» was conditionally 10-12 trains per day, now there are 14-15 trains through it, of which up to 9 are container trains, the rest – universal park. The processing capacity of our terminal is 12 trains per day, and now we overload on average 4.5 trains per day, – says Olzhas Shilterhanov. – My opinion – the freight flow will constantly increase: now China begins to increase the shipment through our «joints», they already see that «dos-tyk» can take more trains, and begin to send a lot of cargo to Russia and European countries through this station. Because everyone wants to deliver their cargo quickly, and now what we send to Europe and Russia given the moment of departure of the containers from the easternmost point of China, the cargo reaches Moscow in the area of 10 days, it is very fast-ro. That is why customers choose railway».
The opening of PTC Holding’s own subsidiary in China, similar to the company’s branches in Uzbekistan and Russia, may also contribute to the increase in the volume of cargo from China. According to Timur Karabayev, this will allow the group of companies to work directly with Chinese shippers, without intermediaries in the form of freight forwarders and trans-porters local companies, and ensure the passage of cargo along the entire route, not from the moment of its crossing the Chinesekazakhstan border.
We have a plan to open a branch in China, tentatively plan to be based in Shanghai, the registration process has already started, – says the head of PTC Holding. – It will not be a representative office, it will be an international company with full economic activity, which will be able to conclude contracts with local carriers on its own behalf, so that we can directly offer a full range of services directly to the shipper. When we control the logistics on the whole route, it is more convenient for us to plan the passage at «junctions», it is more convenient to plan the delivery of rolling stock under these cargoes, it is convenient to control all the issues related to the document circulation, processing of transit declarations. Now, when we buy parts of services from partners, we can guarantee the quality when the cargo comes to the Kazakh border. And after the opening of such a company in the People’s Republic of China, we will monitor the entire chain of marsh-rut», – he explains.
Dostyk TransTerminal containers will not be limited to
As for the third stage of the terminal, the projected capacity of which will be another 160 thousand. DFE, according to Timur Karabayev, it can be designed for transhipment of goods from other types of rolling stock, in addition to the intended for container transport. Now deliveries of cars assembled in China, both in Kazakhstan and Russia, they are transported in mesh cars, and «Dostyk» nowadays there is no specially equipped ramp for their transhipment.
We can provide this opportunity at Dostyk TransTerminal in case the need for overloading the car will be really large, – says the head of PTC Holding. – There is a request from the business to reload containers from railway trains to cars – such a possibility on «Dostyk» there, but the station is overloaded. And our terminal, which has its own railway intersection, which, by the way, is already practically accepted by KTZ and this summer will begin to operate, can further take over part of this load. In general, we have many options to diversify the activities of the terminal, and all of them will be carefully studied», – concluded Timur Karabayev.