By Leman Mammadova
The Baku- Tbilisi-Kars (BTK) railway does not only strengthen economies of the countries in the region by boosting their transit potential, but also plays a role of a guarantor of stability and security in the region.
The time launch of Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway passenger trains has become known.
Azerbaijan Railways Closed Joint Stock Company told Trend that the organization of passenger transportation on the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars route is planned for the third quarter of 2019.
It was noted that in the first quarter of 2019 the import of new cars produced by the Swiss company Stadler is on the agenda for this purpose. In the second stage, another 10 cars are expected to be delivered. Cars are based on the latest technology.
Presentation of the first passenger locomotive (Prima M4) produced by Alstom Transportation S.A. for the Azerbaijan Railways Closed Joint-Stock Company was held in Belfort, France on October 9, 2017. Two passenger locomotives have already been brought to Azerbaijan.
The opening ceremony of the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway was held on October 30, 2017 at the Baku International Sea Trade Port.
According to the State Oil Fund, for the implementation of the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway project, $ 640.3 million has been allocated by September 30, 2017.
The total length of the BTK railway is 846 km, with 504 km running thtough the territory of Azerbaijan, 263 km - Georgia and 79 km - Turkey.
The Istanbul Declaration was signed 29 October 2018 within the 7th trilateral meeting of Azerbaijani, Georgian and Turkish foreign ministers. Declaration stated that commissioning of the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway would make a great contribution to the economic development of the three countries and facilitate competitive transportation between Asia and Europe and in Caspian Sea. The parties agreed to all the necessary support for increasing the volume of passenger and cargo transportation from the Trans-Caspian East-West Corridor through the BTK railway.
Providing the shortest rail link between Europe and Asia, BTK plays an important role in the implementation of China's "One Belt, One Road" strategy and International North-South Transport Corridor.
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.
At present, the BTK provides transportation from Kazakhstan to Mersin port. Some cargoes are delivered from Russia to Turkey and Europe.
The BTK railway has been constructed on the basis a Georgian-Azerbaijani-Turkish intergovernmental agreement. 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.
The main purpose of the project was to improve economic relations between the three countries and attract foreign direct investment by connecting Europe and Asia.
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