First train to run to­day on Baku-Tbil­isi-Kars rail­way

The first train of one of the most im­por­tant links on the Silk Road Rail­way, the BakuT­bil­isi-Kars Rail­way, is set de­part to­day from the Az­eri cap­i­tal of Baku. Some 1 mil­lion pas­sen­gers and 6.5 mil­lion tons of freight will be trans­ported with the ac­ti­va­tio

Daily Sabah (Turkey) - - Front Page -

THE NEW link in the mod­ern Silk Road Rail­way, the Baku-Tbil­isi-Kars (BTK) rail­way will be­come op­er­a­tional as of to­day with the first train set to de­part to­day from the Az­eri cap­i­tal of Baku, fol­low­ing its of­fi­cial open­ing cer­e­mony.

THE FIRST train of the Baku-Tbil­isi-Kars (BTK) Rail­way, a key link in the mod­ern Silk Road Rail­way that aims to carry goods be­tween Bei­jing and Lon­don, is set to de­part to­day from the Az­eri cap­i­tal of Baku with Pres­i­dent Re­cep Tayyip Er­doğan in at­ten­dance along with Azer­bai­jani Pres­i­dent Il­ham Aliyev and Ge­or­gian Prime Min­is­ter Giorgi Kvirikashvili. Ini­tially, the rail­way is ex­pected to carry nearly 1 mil­lion pas­sen­gers and 6.5 mil­lion tons of freight an­nu­ally be­fore un­lock­ing a freight trans­porta­tion po­ten­tial of up to 50 mil­lion tons per year.

Pres­i­dent Er­doğan is set to visit Azer­bai­jan on Oct. 30-31 to at­tend the open­ing cer­e­mony of the first of­fi­cial train ser­vice of the BTK rail­way in a sig­nif­i­cant visit to Baku, which co­in­cides with the 25th an­niver­sary of the es­tab­lish­ment of diplo­matic re­la­tions be­tween Turkey and Azer­bai­jan.

As one of the land routes in the scope of China’s One Belt One Road ini­tia­tive passes through Turkey, Kaza­khstan, Azer­bai­jan and Ge­or­gia, the rail­way projects be­ing launched in the scope of the “Iron Silk Road” have gained sig­nif­i­cance as they are con­nect­ing the re­gions. In this con­text, the BTK rail­way project was ini­ti­ated in 2005 and con­struc­tion be­gan in 2007.

Seventy-nine kilo­me­ters (49 miles) of the BTK rail­way passes through Turkey, 246 kilo­me­ters through Ge­or­gia and 504 kilo­me­ters through Azer­bai­jan.

The trans­porta­tion from Turkey to Ge­or­gia is pro­vided via a bor­der tun­nel within the scope of the project. Some 2,375 me­ters of tun­nel are within Turkey’s bor- der, while 2,070 me­ters are lo­cated on the side of Ge­or­gia.

Thanks to the rail­way net­work link­ing the Mid­dle East to Europe via the Mar­maray, trans­porta­tion be­tween Turkey and Asia, the Cau­ca­sus and Euro­pean coun­tries will be eas­ier. With the BTK rail­way, the po­ten­tial for in­ter­na­tional trans­port will reach 6.5 mil­lion tons per year.

Along with the said project, a sig­nif­i­cant por­tion of the cargo that can be trans­ported from Asia to Europe, and from Europe to Asia, will re­main in Turkey with the Mar­maray and the con­struc­tion of other rail­way projects sup­port­ing th­ese projects. Thus, Turkey will be able to achieve bil­lions of dol­lars in rev­enue in the long run.

Some 1 mil­lion pas­sen­gers and 6.5 mil­lion tons of cargo will be trans­ported with the ac­ti­va­tion of the line, which will lead to the emer­gence of a po­ten­tial for in­ter­na­tional trans­port, and reach 50 mil­lion tons per year through the BTK rail­way be­tween Turkey and Asia, and the Cau­ca­sus and Euro­pean coun­tries.

The project, which will bring vi­tal­ity to the re­gion both in terms of em­ploy­ment and trade, is the third largest project re­al­ized by all three coun­tries af­ter the BakuT­bil­isi-Cey­han and Baku-Tbil­isi-Erzu­rum projects in the en­ergy sec­tor.

Dur­ing the visit, Pres­i­dent Er­doğan will also at­tend the 6th Turkey-Azer­bai­jan High-Level Strate­gic Coun­cil meet­ing on Oct. 31. The pres­i­dents of the two coun­tries are ex­pected to dis­cuss bi­lat­eral re­la­tions, re­gional and in­ter­na­tional de­vel­op­ments in the meet­ing and var­i­ous agree­ments on co­op­er­a­tion will be signed be­tween the coun­tries. Trans­port, Mar­itime Af­fairs and Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Min­is­ter Ah­met Arslan pre­vi­ously said the BTK rail­way project, also called “Iron Silk Road,” is of great im­por­tance for Turkey.

Arslan said a train de­part­ing from Lon­don will be able to go all the way to Bei­jing, stress­ing that the Iron Silk Road will add a very se­ri­ous added value to the coun­tries and re­gions in the route.

Arslan said that the Silk Road Rail­way would add sig­nif­i­cant value to coun­tries host­ing the line and re­vive the re­gional econ­omy. It will also fa­cil­i­tate the de­liv­ery of goods to tar­get mar­kets.

“With the BTK link, around 50 mil­lion tons of in­ter­na­tional freight po­ten­tial will be un­locked,” the min­is­ter noted, adding that the project will also ben­e­fit Turk­ish prov­inces listed among the cen­ters of at­trac­tion, in­clud­ing Kars, Ar­da­han, Iğdır, Ağrı, Erzu­rum, Erz­in­can, Gümüşhane and Bay­burt. The new rail­way cor­ri­dor, he said, will en­able eas­ier trans­porta­tion be­tween Turkey and Asia as well as the Cau­ca­sus and Euro­pean coun­tries.

He un­der­lined that the line will make the re­gion an im­por­tant cen­ter on the new Silk Road, which be­gins in Bei­jing and ends in Lon­don.

“Trans­porta­tion of goods man­u­fac­tured and pro­duced in China as well as raw ma­te­ri­als will be fa­cil­i­tated via an un­in­ter­rupted line of rail­ways,” Arslan said.

“In­vestors who want to set up lo­gis­tics cen­ters in East­ern Ana­to­lia and carry goods from the re­gion to other ar­eas are look­ing for­ward to the project,” he added.

The BTK rail­way project aims to in­te­grate the re­gion with the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity by pro­vid­ing an un­in­ter­rupted cor­ri­dor from China to Lon­don.

Trans­porta­tion be­tween China and Europe will take ap­prox­i­mately 15 days with the com­ple­tion of the Mid­dle Cor­ri­dor. The BTK rail­way project will be one of the main con­nec­tors in terms of trans­porta­tion projects which also in­clude the EU-led Trans­port Europe-Cau­ca­sus-Asia Cor­ri­dor (TRACECA) and the One Belt One Road Mid­dle Cor­ri­dor. The project is ex­pected to strengthen Turkey’s eco­nomic and po­lit­i­cal ties with coun­tries in Eura­sia as it will pro­vide an easy, less-ex­pen­sive op­tion for trans­porta­tion, also en­hanc­ing Turkey’s role as a hub in the Mid­dle Cor­ri­dor.

The Baku-Tbil­isi-Kars Rail­way project aims to in­te­grate the re­gion with the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity by pro­vid­ing an un­in­ter­rupted cor­ri­dor from China to Lon­don.

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