New trans-Cau­ca­sus rail­way in­tro­duces new di­rec­tion in eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment

The new rail­way, which will con­nect Asia, Europe and Africa, of­fi­cially opened yes­ter­day with Pres­i­dent Er­doğan and Azer­bai­jani Pres­i­dent Aliyev in at­ten­dance, promis­ing a new route to en­sure eco­nomic and hu­man­i­tar­ian de­vel­op­ment for the re­gion

Daily Sabah (Turkey) - - Front Page - IS­TAN­BUL / DAILY SABAH

THE Baku-Tbil­isi-Kars (BTK) Rail­way, a key link in the mod­ern Silk Road Rail­way that will carry goods between China and Europe, opened yes­ter­day. The line was in­au­gu­rated with a grand cer­e­mony at­tended by Pres­i­dent Re­cep Tayyip Er­doğan, Azer­bai­jani Pres­i­dent İl­ham Aliyev, Geor­gian Prime Min­is­ter Giorgi Kvirikashvili and Uzbek Prime Min­is­ter Ab­dulla Aripov. Speak­ing at the in­au­gu­ra­tion cer­e­mony, Er­doğan stressed the BTK line’s im­por­tance for the re­gion and neigh­bor­ing coun­tries. He said that in ad­di­tion to yield­ing eco­nomic ben­e­fits for Tur­key, Azer­bai­jan, Ge­or­gia and other coun­tries in the re­gion, the rail­way will also en­sure peace, se­cu­rity, sta­bil­ity and pros­per­ity, boost­ing over­all hu­man de­vel­op­ment. He said that the project marks a very im­por­tant mile­stone in re­gional co­op­er­a­tion and its fu­ture. “We are tak­ing a very im­por­tant step for our fu­ture,” Er­doğan said, and added that the ben­e­fits of the project will be felt long into the fu­ture. “We are wit­ness­ing the op­er­a­tional­iza­tion of an im­por­tant chain in the New Silk Road, which aims to con­nect Asia, Africa, and Europe. The BTK Rail­way con­sti­tutes the most im­por­tant part of the Mid­dle Cor­ri­dor project. Now, di­rect rail­way con­nec­tion from Bei­jing to Lon­don has been es­tab­lished,” Er­doğan said.

“THE PROJECT is the work of our joint de­ter­mi­na­tion and vi­sion and it is our joint suc­cess,” Pres­i­dent Er­doğan con­tin­ued.

He also drew at­ten­tion to the re­gion’s geopo­lit­i­cal sig­nif­i­cance as well as its po­ten­tial in var­i­ous sec­tors in­clud­ing trans­porta­tion, trade, tourism, and en­ergy.

Er­doğan added that Tur­key has been work­ing re­lent­lessly over the last 15 years to un­lock that po­ten­tial and has de­vel­oped nu­mer­ous projects in or­der to do so.

Point­ing out how Tur­key’s in­fra­struc­ture and trans­porta­tion projects were com­ple­men­tary to the BTK, Er­doğan men­tioned the Mar­maray, which be­came op­er­a­tional on Oct. 29, 2013; Tur­key’s high-speed rail­way net­work; the ren­o­va­tion of the coun­try’s ex­ist­ing rail­ways; and the Yavuz Sultan Selim Bridge, which has a rail line.

The sig­nif­i­cance of the project lies in its abil­ity to of­fer the most cost-ef­fec­tive trans­porta­tion for the lo­gis­tics sec­tor that seeks a more eco­nom­i­cal way of de­liv­er­ing goods to tar­get mar­kets.

“Chi­nese freight will be de­liv­ered to Euro­pean Union coun­tries within 12 to 15 days via the BTK rail­way through the Mid­dle Cor­ri­dor,” Er­doğan said.

In his speech, the pres­i­dent also said that cur­rently around 240 mil­lion tons of freight is shipped from China to Europe.

“Car­ry­ing even 10 per­cent of this amount through our coun­tries will bring an ex­tra 24 mil­lion tons of freight trans­porta­tion.”

The pres­i­dent con­cluded: “In ad­di­tion to fa­cil­i­tat­ing hu­man and freight mo­bil­ity, the BTK Rail­way will con­trib­ute to the hu­man de­vel­op­ment of our re­gion through in­for­ma­tion mo­bil­ity.”

Also speak­ing at the cer­e­mony, Azer­bai­jani Pres­i­dent İl­ham Aliyev said the rail­way project was the re­sult of the broth­er­hood between the three coun­tries in­volved.

“Some peo­ple said the project was im­pos­si­ble, but the three coun­tries have proved that it is pos­si­ble. The Baku-Tbil­isi-Kars is a his­toric, global project. It will bring [our] coun­tries closer,” Aliyev said.

Geor­gian Prime Min­is­ter Kvirikashvili said the project was a bridge between Asia and Europe.

“This line will both tie economies and peo­ple to­gether,” he said.

The BTK Rail­way will also con­nect Turk­menistan via the port of Turk­men­bashi and Kazakhstan through the Ak­tau port to con­ti­nen­tal Europe. Trains can de­part from cities in China, cross into Kazakhstan at the Khor­gos Gate­way, be trans­ported across the Caspian Sea by ferry to the New Port of Baku and then be loaded di­rectly onto the BTK and head to Europe.

Around 79 kilo­me­ters of the BTK rail­way passes through Tur­key, while 246 kilo­me­ters passes through Ge­or­gia and 504 kilo­me­ters through Azer­bai­jan.

Within the scope of the project, the link between Tur­key and Ge­or­gia is en­abled us­ing a bor­der tun­nel, of which some 2,375 me­ters lay in Tur­key and 2,070 me­ters are on the Geor­gian side.

Thanks to the new rail­way net­work, link­ing the Mid­dle East to Europe via the Mar­maray, and trans­porta­tion between Tur­key and Asia, the Cau­ca­sus and Euro­pean coun­tries will be eas­ier.

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

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.

Pres­i­dent Er­doğan (C) and Azer­bai­jani Pres­i­dent Aliyev(R) em­barked on the first train on the Baku-Tbil­isi-Kars Rail­way.

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