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Potential for growth

The North-South ITC is providing Russia consumer goods from foreign countries
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The International North–South Transport Corridor

The port infrastructure development of Lotus special economic zone will help provide 20 million tons of cargo traffic along the North-South international transport corridor (ITC). This was announced in late November by Sergey Milushkin, General Director of SEZ Lotus, at the PRO//Drive.Caspian Conference. 

The area of the SEZ port at the Olya port site (part of SEZ Lotus) is 736 hectares. This zone is being developed in accordance with the RF Decree No. 1792 dated November 7, 2020 "On establishment of a special port economic zone and Caspian cluster in the Astrakhan Region".

Today, according to data from SEZ Lotus, the declared investments volume from the project’s participants is more than 30 billion rubles, while budget investments for the creation of PSEZ amount to 10.4 billion rubles.

The PSEZ development plan includes the launch of berths 8 and 9 of Olya port, as well as the construction of grain, oil, and container terminals. Consequently, as early as December 15th, three ships carrying grain departed these berths to Iran. In addition, it is expected that containers will be accepted there in spring 2024, when a checkpoint is equipped, the administration of the Astrakhan region informs. 150 new railroad and road accesses to the port are also planned to be built in the next seven years.

Cargo hub

As Sergey Milushkin noted, the North-South ITC’s competitive advantage is its relatively budget-friendly infrastructure. For example, by comparison, for the Eastern polygon investments of about 1 trillion rubles are required to increase throughput capacity by 50-100 million tons. 

Today transport and logistics centers (TLC) are undergoing development in Lotus PSEZ. To that end, Fininvest plans to build “Caspian” multimodal transport and logistics center (TLC). The future terminal will include modern railroad, terminal, warehouse, and customs infrastructure.

The project is planned to be carried out in two phases, funded by private investments. The first stage, with a design capacity of 150,000 TEU (20-foot equivalent), is planned to complete in 2025. The second stage, increasing the design capacity up to 300 thousand TEU per year, is planned to be fully executed after 2026.

As Alexander Kakhidze noted, the project is of particular importance under the new geopolitical conditions. Due to the global reforming of our country’s traditional logistics routes, the Astrakhan region is growing in importance as a strategic territory. The construction of the TLC as part of the Caspian cluster will not only provide PSEZ residents high-quality logistics services but also attract additional cargo traffic through the Caspian Sea ports. In 2024, 250 million rubles is planned to be spent on preparatory activities. The primary works are scheduled to be performed in 2025.

"Multimodality, seamlessness, and interaction with Russian Railways OJSC as the main carriers, but also not forgetting inland waterways and road transport – these are the areas we are taking on today," Sergey Milushkin concluded.

Transportation growth

As of November, the volume of container shipments along the North-South ITC has doubled since the beginning of 2023, Alexey Shilo, Deputy General Director of Russian Railways, OJSC, and Head of the Corporate Transportation Service Center, noted during his speech at the PRO//Drive.Caspian Conference.

"This year, we have doubled the container cargo shipment volume along all branches of the North-South ITC and we foresee excellent prospects, most importantly, enthusiasm from all transportation participants in the corridor’s development," Alexey Shilo said.

“The North-South ITC is important for providing the Russian population with necessary consumer goods, such as food, clothing, electronics, and equipment. All these nomenclatures have to bypass the Eastern polygon, as it is backed up with large consignments of coal and other industrial cargoes being shipped,” Sergey Milushkin noted. 

Alexander Solyanik

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