By Sara Israfilbayova
Over 3,000 railcars and containers have already been transported via the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars (BTK) railway.
Chairman of Azerbaijan Railways Javid Gurbanov told reporters that presently, work continues on the railway, where Azerbaijani specialists are also taking part.
“It is only left to complete minor work. They are connected, in particular, with the definition of goods, the installation of border customs posts and the solution of other border issues,” Gurbanov stressed.
He went on to say that about 2,000 people are involved in this process and 30 percent (about 500) of them are Azerbaijanis.
On October 30, a solemn ceremony on the occasion of the opening of the BTK railway was held at the Baku International Sea Trade Port. Two trains from Kazakhstan to Turkish Mersin have already been sent via this route. The first train, consisting of 30 containers, on November 4, delivered 600 tons of wheat to the Turkish city of Mersin. The second freight train left Kazakhstan on November 27. The train has already reached Georgia.
The BTK railway is constructed on the basis of the Azerbaijan-Georgia-Turkey intergovernmental agreement. The main purpose of the project is to improve economic relations between the three countries and attract foreign direct investment by connecting Europe and Asia.
In fact, the BTK railway route is the shortest way to deliver cargo from the Russian regions located in the Volga, Ural and Siberian Federal Districts to the Mediterranean ports of Turkey, and further to the countries of Africa and the Middle East.
The project implementation began in 2007 and construction began in 2008. The line is intended to transport one million passengers and 6.5 million tons of freight at the first stage. This capacity will then reach 3 million passengers and 17 million tons of cargo.
Speaking of the Baku-Lankaran railway, Gurbanov noted that design work related to the reconstruction and relocation of the railway is planned to be completed by the end of 2018.
“Funds for this project have already been allocated by the state. Preparatory work is underway. Design will be completed by the end of this year. It is carried out by a Turkish company. After that, we will begin work on the reconstruction and transfer of the railway section,” Gurbanov said.
Earlier it was reported that the Azerbaijani government is conducting preparatory work on the transfer of the Baku-Astara railway. It was about the part of the railway that passes through Lankaran and Astara.
Gurbanov also informed that it is planned to commission the Sumgayit passenger railway station after reconstruction before the end of this year.
The work is carried out within the framework of the Baku ring railway construction project, which will link Baku and Sumgayit through a number of Baku settlements.
"Fifteen trains will run in both directions on the ring railway. Their number may increase or decrease. There will be 14 stations, 20 underground and overground crossings, and about 30,000 passengers will be served,” Gurbanov said.
He added that work has already been completed in the Baku-Sumgayit direction, and the work in the opposite direction still continues.
“It is safe to say that the work on the section from Sumgayit to Sabunchu has already been done, and work continues on the section from Baku to Sabunchu. It is expected that the Sumgayit passenger station will be ready before the end of the year," the chairman noted.
Sara Israfilbayova is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow her on Twitter: @Sara_999Is
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