By Abdul Kerimkhanov
Baku-Tbilisi-Kars (BTK) railway contributes to increasing Azerbaijan’s role in the region. Today, there are close relations between Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey, which have already entered the level of regional cooperation.
Javid Gurbanov, Chairman of Azerbaijan Railways, said that the Railways is ready to launch passenger transportation via the BTK route.
He added that the new trains are already in Baku.
“However, not everything depends on us. It is necessary that both the Georgian and Turkish sides are ready,” he noted.
Gurbanov noted that in order to launch passenger trains on the BTK, it is necessary to solve customs issues as well.
The BTK railway has been constructed on the basis of 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 three 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.
Earlier, Mehmet Cahit Turhan, the Turkish Minister of Transport and Infrastructure, said that a high density of passengers in the direction of the BTK railway is expected.
Azerbaijan Railways plans to organize passenger transportation on the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars route in 2019.
A passenger train of 10 wagons intended for operation on the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway arrived in Baku on March 29. The train includes nine passenger cars and a dining car. The train is designed to carry 246 people in one direction and is able to run at a speed of 160 km/h.
Railway departments of Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey have to make decisions on the days of the week and hours of movement of the trains and on the tickets prices.
The Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway was commissioned on October 30, 2017. Currently, this route carries freight. At the initial stage, BTK is expected to carry up to one million passengers.
Abdul Kerimkhanov is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow him on Twitter: @AbdulKerim94
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