Azerbaijan, Georgia, Turkey launch new Asia-to-Europe rail link

Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway begins its work

The inauguration ceremony was attended by Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev and Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accompanied by their first ladies, Kazakhstan's Prime Minister Bakytzhan Sagintayev, Georgia's Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili, Uzbekistan's Prime Minister Abdulla Aripov, the Ministers of Transport of Tajikistan and Turkmenistan as well as other high-level dignitaries.

The pair talked over the phone this morning.

Around 79 kilometers of the BTK railway passes through Turkey, while 246 kilometers passes through Georgia and 504 kilometers through Azerbaijan.

Initially the railway is expected to carry almost 1 million passengers and 6.5 million tons of freight annually before unlocking a freight transportation potential of up to 50 million tons per year. The Baku-Tbilisi-Kars is a historic, global project.

Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey on Monday launched a rail link between the countries aimed at cutting total journey times from China to Western Europe while bypassing Russian Federation.

Trains can depart from cities in China, cross into Kazakhstan at the Khorgos Gateway, be transported across the Caspian Sea by ferry to the New Port of Baku, and then be loaded directly onto the BTK in order to head to Europe.

He noted that the BTK project will contribute to peace and stability in the South Caucasus.

A detailed article on the Baku - Kars - Tbilisi railway project and its role in the wider development of Eurasian transport corridors appeared in the June 2017 issue of Railway Gazette International magazine, which subscribers can access in the digital archive. "It will bring [our] countries closer", Aliyev said.

The project's total cost rose to more than US$1 billion from an initial estimate of about US$400 million. The bulk of that financing came from Azerbaijan's state oil fund.

Georgian Prime Minister Kvirikashvili said the project was a bridge between Asia and Europe.

"We are taking a very important step for our future", Erdo─čan said, and added that the benefits of the project will be felt long into the coming future.



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