“Baku-Tbilisi-Kars Railway construction is on its final stage and it is already possible to travel to Kars via the new railway line,” – the Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia stated upon the inspection of the new railway line from Tbilisi to Kartsakhi. Giorgi Gakharia inspected the line together with the Minister of Transport, Maritime and Communications, Ahmet Arslan and the CEO of the Azerbaijan Railways, Javid Gurbanov.
Officials of the three countries participating in the Project have observed the construction of the main line and the on-going works, including the rehabilitated railway stations of Tetritskharo and Akhalkalaki. Giorgi Gakharia stated that 70 percent of the Georgian section of the new railway line is already accomplished, but there is still a lot to be done, including the electrification of the last section, preparation of the customs, sanitary services and others. “However, traveling from Tbilisi to Kars via railway is already available, which is a very welcoming fact. This is the testing stage. It will take us another 10 days to determine if what else is had to be done,” – the Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development stated.
Rehabilitation and reconstruction of the Marabda-Kartsakhi 180km-long railway line is underway within the framework of the new railway line project. The Project consists of the following sections: the Marabda-Akhalkalaki reconstruction-rehabilitation section with 153 km of operational length and the Akhalkalaki-Kartsakhi (Turkish border) reconstruction-rehabilitation section with 27 km of operational length.
As the inspection revealed, the first freight train will pass through Azerbaijan on the new railway line to Turkey via Georgia within two months. The new railway line will have the capability to transport all kinds of cargo. According to Giorgi Gakharia, there are already some interests and some serious offers including the offer to transport freight from Kazakhstan to Turkey. The next step will provide the passenger transportation. In total, the Project is expected to transport the freight up to 5 million tons a year (with prospect of 15 million tons of freight transportation) and over 1 million passengers.
Speaking about the importance of the project, Giorgi Gakharia emphasized on the fact that the new railway line will never become a competitor for Georgian ports since it can be regulated by the price and the freight flow. “We have officially confirmed to our Turkish and Azerbaijani counterparts that the Georgian Government and the Ministry of Economy will always protect the interests of the Georgian ports,” – the Minister noted.
A new railway line between Europe and Asia will be established upon the completion of the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway construction. The Project will enable to maximally use Georgia’s transit capabilities. The Project is of outmost importance in terms of establishing Georgia as a regional economic, trade, business and transportation hub.
The Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development also gave the evaluation of the Project in terms of global importance. “This railway line connects China with Europe. The principle and the structure of the regional logistics, as well as the system of coordination between Kazakhstan and Turkey as well as between China and Turkey are changing dramatically. New services through this new railway line are already available, which is of outmost importance,” – Giorgi Gakharia stated. The Minister also noted that during the meeting with the representatives of Azerbaijan and Turkey, it was also discussed the necessity of providing the second line which is conditioned by the prospect in terms of increasing freight transportation needs.
The Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Turkey to Georgia, H.E. Zeki Levent Gümrükçü talked about the international significance of the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway project, which he named as ‘a dream that came true’.
According to the Ambassador, there are many users waiting for the project to be launched. “First of all, I would like to congratulate all three Governments as well as the Turkish, Georgian and Azerbaijan people on this great achievement. This Project will bring closer not only these three participant countries, but the two continents, Europe and Asia as well. Trade and transportation between these two continents is increasing day to day and we already have number of clients waiting for this railway line to be launched” – the Ambassador said.
It should be noted that the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars Railway is recognized as one of the most important projects among the 100 global projects worldwide.
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