Posts Tagged ‘Latvia’

100 000th container on the NDN

Thursday, June 20th, 2013

Celebration of the 100,000th Container along the NDN

June 11, 2013

On June 11th, Ambassador McCarthy visited Riga Free Port to participate in a celebration of the 100,000th container to pass through the Northern Distribution Network, which includes Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, to Afganistan, organized U.S. Embassy in Riga, in cooperation with the Latvian MFA and Ministry of Transport.

Among the senior diplomats present at the event were U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Lynne Tracy, the U.S. Ambassadors to Latvia Mark Pekala, Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics,Latvian Minister of Transportation Anrijs Matiss as well as other U.S. military officials.

Initially activated in 2009, the route has brought more than 2 million tons of nonlethal equipment through ports in the Baltic nations of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia and then overland into Afghanistan to support operations. The route traverses the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, the Black Sea, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan before reaching Afghanistan.

The route was created as an alternate way to move supplies into Afghanistan instead of depending on a single route through Pakistan. It is one of the longest lines of military supply lines ever created, according to U.S. Army Col. Matthew Redding, commander of the 598th Transportation Brigade in Sembach, Germany. His unit coordinates the logistical effort through U.S. Transportation Command’s Surface Deployment and Distribution Command.

“The 100,000th container is not the story, that is simply a number,” said Col. Redding. “What is really important is the Baltic cooperation and the ability to link it to our foreign policy as it relates to the entire region.”

The route requires close cooperation between not only nations but U.S. Transportation Command, U.S. Army Europe, the U.S. State Department and its embassies, as well as the commercial entities that contract for the transport.

“It represents cooperation amongst our agencies in the U.S,” said Ambassador McCarthy. “The DoD and Department of State cooperation has been vital in the last few years. It’s also a celebration of our ability to work with foreign governments thinking about not only a common cause in Afghanistan, but about the future of Central Asia.”

The ceremony also set the stage for a conference June 12 in Riga discussing the future of the network as a means for withdrawing equipment from Afghanistan as 2014 approaches, and the expansion of the route for commercial purposes.

“We are trying to create, on the basis of the Northern Distribution Network, a whole new way of thinking about transportation and logistics in this region,” said Ambassador Pekala. “Latvia and the other Baltic states could be the center of what they call a new Silk Road … a 21st-century logistics and transportation hub. This represents how that can be achieved working together on the basis of free enterprise, democracy and cooperation.”
Source: Embassy of the United States, Lithuania

Not like the WWII Persian Corridor, where the volume of traffic was censored!

Inter-continental route via Riga

Sunday, June 12th, 2011

The 2010-11 brochure of the Freeport of Riga Authority (“Your Reliable Partner on the Shores of the Baltic Sea”) has a page entitled The Fastest Way to Link the EU to the CIS and Asia, showing connections between the Latvian port and central Asia.

This includes a map of the route taken by trains carrying (non-lethal) supplies to Afghanistan.

Freeport of Riga Authority map showing rail freight route between Riga and Afghanistan
A BLOCK TRAIN BETWEEN
RIGA AND HAIRATON
(AFGHANISTAN )
A dedicated block train service between
Riga and Hairaton (Afghanistan) for the
delivery of non-military goods to US troops
in Afghanistan. The train is operated by the
TransContainer company in Russia, and the
transit time is 10-11 days.

The map shows a route via Moscow, Samara, western Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, back into Uzbekistan to what appears to be Termez, and then to Dushanbe in Tajikistan. From Dushanbe the route runs south to Afghanistan, then via Kabul to somewhere in the middle of Afghanistan, and terminates at a place which is labelled “Hairaton” but is actually about where Herat is.

Presumably if the map is correct then transport onwards from Dushanbe is by road, although I might expect that traffic for central Afghanistan would actually be transshipped at Hayratan, while that for Herat would actually go by rail to Towraghondi; maybe there are political problems with going through Turkmenistan, and these can be avoided by using the route along the Uzbek/Turkmen border on a “corridor” basis?

According to the Port Authority’s website, the Afghan traffic was due to begin in 2009:

Regular cargo transit from Riga to Afganistan to be launched

According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs consignment goods for international forces involved into peace maintenance mission will be sent from Riga to Afghanistan in the nearest two weeks. The agreement was concluded after General Duncan McNab, the commander of the US Armed Forces Transportation Command, has visited Latvia this week. Both American and Latvian representatives specify that these cargoes will not be military ones.

It was necessary to seek for other cargo transit routes due to security situation deterioration in Pakistan. That is why certain part of goods is delivered to Afghanistan through Georgia. Riga port will be the only port in the European region. From Latvia cargo will be delivered by rail through Russia, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan.

At present there are 500 containers at Riga port. “In the framework of his visit General McNab has visited Riga port, assessed Latvia’s participation in the process and said that everything is all right,” said high-ranking US Embassy diplomat that did not want to mention his name. The speed of transshipment of cargoes that are now in Riga will mostly depend on freight forwarding companies and countries involved into transportation chain. It is planned that several cargo trains will be sent from Riga to Afghanistan every week.

Source: Freeport of Riga Authority, 2009-05-08

A train seems to have run in February 2009,1 although NATO only announced a first trial shipment from Riga on 14 May 2010, arriving in Afghanistan on 9 June.2 There seem to various subtleties about NATO or individual countries making shipments, and lethal and non-lethal cargoes.

As well as the USA, other NATO members have sent supplies by rail via Riga. The first trains with cargos of the Great Britain, Belgium and Spain arrived already in May 14 [2010]. The cargos comprise construction materials, food. To a certain extent it is connected with safety of the cargos which is difficult to guarantee, for example, in Pakistan where a train of NATO cargos has already been attacked. 3

Latvia to Afghanistan NATO freight train arrives

Monday, June 14th, 2010

NATO opens new communication lines to Afghanistan

Following the conclusion of arrangements for the transit of ISAF non-lethal cargo by rail with the Russian Federation, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Belarus and Kazakhstan, the first trial shipment of the NATO train departed Riga, Latvia, on 14 May and arrived in Afghanistan on 9 June 2010.

Despite being delayed for several days en route, the trial has been heralded as a success in opening up new lines of communication to Afghanistan. Plans are already underway for follow-on shipments in the months ahead, subject to the demands of ISAF Troop Contributing Nations.

The train transited through Russia, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan before entering Afghanistan at the border-crossing point at Hairaton. The shipment consisted of 27 twenty-foot ISO containers of construction materials, food supplies and a loading ramp from Belgium.

Several agencies were involved in arranging the shipment including the Allied Movement Coordination Centre at Allied Command Operations in Mons, Belgium; the Movement Coordination Centre Europe at Eindhoven, the Netherlands; the Danish Handling Agent, DSV, in Latvia; and the various military and rail authorities of the nations involved. Latvia acted as the Lead Nation in coordinating the various elements.

Use of the rail route costs approximately 10 per cent of the equivalent for movement by air and is more direct than using the southern surface transport route through Pakistan.

Source: NATO press release, 2010-06-09