The 13th Meeting of the Heads of ECO Railways Authorities/7th Meeting of Railway Committee of TTCC was held in Baku, Republic of Azerbaijan from 17-18 April 2017. The meeting was attended by senior railway officials from the ECO Member States, namely, the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, Republic of Azerbaijan, the Islamic Republic of Iran, Republic of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, Republic of Tajikistan, Republic of Turkey and Turkmenistan. The Meeting was also attended by a delegation from the People’s Republic of China and representatives from the Islamic Development Bank (IDB), ECO-TDB, UNECE, UNESCAP and OTIF.
The Meeting reviewed the latest developments on major ECO railway corridors and discussed challenges yet existing and impeding smooth/regular run of container trains along these routes. The Meeting was also updated on ECO’s plans regarding commercializing the railway connecting Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Iran. Updates were also provided on the latest situation regarding pre-feasibility/feasibility studies and construction works on the segments in the territories of the countries enroute the railway connecting China and Europe through Kyrgyz-Tajikistan-Afghanistan-Iran (KTAI). The Meeting was also briefed on the headway made on the segments along the “Qazvin-Rasht-Astara (Iran)-Astara (Azerbaijan)” railway.
Representatives of IDB, UNECE, UNESCAP and OTIF also provided presentations on the latest initiatives/projects in the railway sector. The Meeting had an agenda item titled as “dialogue with China” in which ECO Member States exchanged views with the delegation of China on potential of further enhancement of their cooperation. The Chinese delegation also informed the Meeting about the national plans in the railway sector, notably on the major rail projects having relevance and connection to the ECO Region.
Among other decisions, it was agreed to hold the next KTAI ministerial Meeting and the 4th “Qazvin-Rasht-Astara (Iran)-Astara (Azerbaijan)” HLWG in 2017 in Iran. The Heads of Railways were informed that the next Meeting of Transport Ministers will be held in Turkmenistan in which China will be invited for high level interaction with ECO Ministers. Major decisions of the Meeting and recommendations made by the Member States have been reflected in the final report of the meeting.
At the end of the Meeting, participating delegates expressed heartfelt thanks to the “Azerbaijan Railways” CJSC, the host authority, for excellent arrangements and hospitality accorded to the delegates, and to the ECO Secretariat for organizing the event in Baku.