By Ofeliya Afandiyeva
Connecting Baku-Tbilisi-Kars (BTK) railway with Azerbaijan’s Nakhchivan exclave would require investments worth $2 billion as well as the construction of a 280 km line in Turkey, Chairman of Azerbaijan Railways CJSC Javid Gurbanov said on December 17.
BTK is a regional rail link project that was put into operation in 2017 to directly connect Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey.
“The Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway has so far transported 300,000 tons of cargo. In spite of some obstacles, work is still underway to attract more cargo to make this line more intensive. Currently, this direction is actively used by Russian companies. Kazakhstan is working on this area and as a result of this process, it will be possible to attract an additional 500-600,000 tons,” Gurbanov said.
Gurbanov noted that the work on the arrangement of passenger transportation by this railway is underway: “Recently the passenger train was tested in this direction. Relevant documents have already been prepared and passenger transportation will be launched once they are signed”.
Note that Azerbaijan is fully ready for passenger transportation via Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway. Ten wagons have been purchased for exploitation, and 10 additional wagons are planned to be delivered next year.
It should be mentioned that according to "The memorandum of understanding on the cooperation through the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway route”, 1 million tons of coal have been transported from Russia through the railway in a short period of time, and it is planned to transport 3-5 million tons of coal, grain and metals in an average period.
A new North-South corridor from Russia has also been created through Baku-Tbilisi-Kars. The transportation of steel to Turkey’s Iskenderun port has been launched via this corridor. Baku-Tbilisi-Kars has made the access of Central Asian countries to European and world markets easier. In the future, the attraction of cargo of European and Asian countries to this railway will increase the volume of multimodal transportations in two directions.
Azerbaijan’s transit possibilities have grown since Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway started operating.
Note that being a regional rail link project, which directly connects Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey, the key objective of the project is to improve economic relations between the three countries and gaining foreign direct investment by connecting Europe and Asia.
Its total length is 826 kilometers and it is able to transport 1 million passengers and 6.5 million tons of freight at the first stage. This capacity will then reach 3 million passengers and over 15 million tons of freight.
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