Baku-Tbilisi-Kars Railway to be Used for Kazakh Freight
Saturday 20 October 2012
ASTANA (Echo.az) – By the end of 2012, Kazakhstan will sign an agreement with Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey to have the future Baku-Tbilisi-Kars (BTK) railway haul Kazakh freight, declared Kazakhstan Ambassador to Azerbaijan, Serik Primbetov.
The railway is expected to begin operation in 2014 and would give Chinese and Central Asian exporters access to the European rail network. It is expected to haul 30 mln tonnes of freight annually.
Kazakhstan’s inclusion in the project lays the foundation for other Central Asian countries to join it, said Vugar Bairamov, chairman of the Centre for Economic and Social Development of Azerbaijan. Bairamov likened the planned railway to the old Silk Road.
The key objective of the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars project is to improve economic relations between the three countries and gaining foreign direct investment by connecting Europe and Asia. The Tbilisi-Baku railway was completed in 1883, and has since remained the backbone of Transcaucasia’s railway network. By 1899, a branch line (Kars-Gyumri-Tbilisi railway) from Tbilisi to Marabda to Gyumri (then Alexandropol) to Kars was completed. In 1986, the construction of a 160 km branch railway line from Marabda (on the Tbilisi-Gyumri line, 23 km south of Tbilisi Junction) west to Akhalkalaki was completed. However, this branch fell into disuse later on.
Earlier in October, Turkmen and Uzbek presidents Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov and Islam Karimov declared their interest in the project in a joint statement after Karimov’s visit to Ashgabat, Fergana News reported.