Baku-Tbilisi-Kars Train Tested In Turkey

A trial of the train of the $600 million railway project which directly connects Turkey, Georgia and Azerbaijan has been launched on Turkish territory today.

According to Trend news agency, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is attending the Chinese-Turkish business forum in Beijing, announced that the first test train is being launched via the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars (BTK) railway on the territory of Turkey on July 30.

The BTK railway line is a regional railway link that will directly connect Kars in Turkey, Tbilisi in Georgia and Baku in Azerbaijan. The total estimated cost of the project is around $600 million. The Turkish segment will be 76km long while the Georgian railway line will be 29km long.

President Erdogan also stressed the importance of the BTK project in the field of cargo transportation.
It is hoped that the railway line will improve the trade and economic relations between Central Asia, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Iran, when connecting with Europe.

The construction of the new 105-kilometer branch of the railroad was inaugurated by the presidents of the three regions at Marabda, South Georgia on 21 November 2007. However, on 8 August 2009, construction activities of the BTK railway line were suspended due to the Georgian-Ossetian conflict and environmental problems.

In February 2014, Azerbaijan's Transportation Minister, Ziya Mammadov, stated that the project would not be completed before the second half of 2015 and new sleeping coaches would not enter service until 2016-17.

The presidents of Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey signed the declaration on the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway connection on 25 May 2005. The key reason for the agreement was the rejection of assistance by the EU and the US as the link bypassed Armenia.

It is believed that the BTK railway line will transport a million passengers and 6.5 million tons of cargo in its initial stage.
By 2030, it is expected to carry an estimated 17 million tons of cargo and approximately three million passengers.

Tamar Svanidze

30 July 2015 16:45