Thursday 27 October 2022

6th Railway Working Group meeting held in Kazakhstan

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As part ofCAREC Transport Week, the 6th Railway Working Group (RWG) meeting was organised on 17-18 October 2022 in Almaty, Kazakhstan.

CAREC (Central Asian Regional Economic Cooperation) member countries are now working to implement the Railway Strategy, for which the Asian Development Bank (ADB) has organised a technical assistance (TA) project with the financial support of the People’s Republic of China Poverty Reduction and Regional Cooperation Fund (PRCF), and the United Kingdom’s Asia Regional Trade and Connectivity Fund (ARTCF).

At its 6th meeting, the RWG reported on progress in implementing this assistance, agreeing on the next steps, and sharing knowledge and experience on commercialising railways, reform, and investment.

The meeting was attended by representatives from CAREC member countries and was supported by development partners including ADB, the Asian Infrastructure and Investment Bank (AIIB), the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), the International Union of Railways (UIC), the Organisation for Cooperation between Railways (OSJD) and the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP).

Discussions over the 2 days were dedicated to topics on:

  • How CAREC railways are responding to recent challenges and opportunities for long-distance cross-border railway freight
  • What is wrong with the Middle Corridor? A TA study of the CAREC railways’ situation and opportunities for investment, commercialisation, and reform
  • Track capacity and timetabling software
  • Foundations for railway reform—case studies
  • The CAREC railway TA work-plan for 2022/2023
  • Cost-price calculations of rail transport services
  • Rolling stock needs and financing a facility study

Some of the sessions highlighted the key requirements for shifting large volumes of goods to alternative long distance railway freight routes, and explained that pricing and service quality have a big impact on which transport options customers choose, especially long distance.” Specific attention was paid to the current performance and potential of the Caspian Sea ports, the bottlenecks in infrastructure and railway operational performance, as well as the pricing, tariff and freight documentation practices that influence the extent to which the Middle Corridor can attract freight traffic from other long-distance routes.

Development partners shared their views on railway sector expansion in Central Asia and expressed their interest in the assistance provided to the RWG.
UIC, EBRD, and UNESCAP presented some of their ongoing and planned activities in support of Central Asia’s railway sector. Uzbekistan also presented initiatives on the development of a digital platform for transport and logistics.
UIC and ADB have established a long-term partnership and this team is currently working on implementing the “Asian Transport Outlook” (ATO) project. A UIC representative discussed how this work is progressing.

The ATO is a multiyear programme financed by ADB with the potential to serve as the primary knowledge base on transport in Asia. To make this a reality, ADB will make ATO data freely available to everyone and is encouraging transport planners and policy makers to make use of ATO data in their work.
ADB has therefore released its first batch of data for this platform to guide sustainable transport development in Asia and the Pacific.
The ATO will support ADB’s planning and delivery of transport sector assistance, as well as transport policy and initiatives by Asian governments, in line with the Sustainable Development Goals, the Paris Agreement, and other international treaties.

For further information, please contact Irina Petrunina, UIC Adviser on CIS Countries and International Organisations at

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