Posted by meb at September 4th, 2008

Turkey and Russia are expected to sign an intergovernmental agreement on a rail ferry connection between the ports of Samsun in Turkey and Kavkaz on the Kerch Strait on Russia’s Black Sea coast during the visit of Turkish President Abdullah Gül to Moscow in December, the Turkish Daily News has learned.

“We are working to connect Kavkaz and Samsun, both port cities that have access to railways, with a ferry connection. Our aim is to develop rail and road systems in the Black Sea region,” Aleksandr Davidenk, head of the Federal Agency for Marine and River Transport at Russia’s Ministry of Transport said yesterday at Yugtrans-2008 maritime conference in Istanbul.

Alternative transport routes

The plan to connect Samsun and Kavkaz by a rail ferry link comes at a time when the pressure on Russian roads and shortage of port facilities for large deliveries has attracted criticism in several countries trading with Russia.

An official of the Russian Ministry of Transport said the new rail ferry connection aims to increase trade between Turkey and Russia and enable large deliveries.

“However more importantly, the new connection aims to take pressure off the roads, which, combined with ferries, are currently the main transport route in southern Russia. We are also keen to find a more environmentally friendly solution to transportation in the Black Sea region,” she told the TDN on the sidelines of the conference.

Port projects

The Russian government is currently working also on several other projects to develop its seaports.

“We are working on several port projects, among them constructing a new port in Taganrog, on the north shore of the Sea of Azov, and reconstructing the port of Sochi to serve an increasing volume of cruise passengers. This month we are also testing a ferry rail line to Varna in Bulgaria,” Davidenk said.

The rail ferry service between Varna and Kavkaz is expected to go into operation by the end of the year.

The ministry was also planning to build a deep-water port in Murmansk in the Kola Bay, which would have an annual throughput of 28.5 million tons by 2010 and 52 million tons by 2020, and a new terminal in Primorsk, a port city on the Baltic Sea close to St. Petersburg and the Finnish border.
source: Turkish Daily News