Azerbaijani president, first lady attend opening ceremony of BTK railway (UPDATE 2)
Details added (first version posted on 14:26)
Baku, Azerbaijan, Oct. 30
A solemn opening ceremony of the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars (BTK) railway is being held at the Baku International Sea Port Oct. 30.
President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev, First Lady Mehriban Aliyeva, President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his spouse Emine Erdogan, Prime Minister of Kazakhstan Bakytzhan Sagintayev, Prime Minister of Georgia Giorgi Kvirikashvili, Prime Minister of Uzbekistan Abdulla Aripov, as well as delegations of Tajikistan and Turkmenistan are participating in the event.
President Aliyev delivered speech at the ceremony.
The Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway, which is a new upgrade project for the Eurasian area, is the restoration of the ancient Silk Road on steel highways.
The agreement on the construction of the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway was signed in Tbilisi in 2007. In November of the same year, the railway line was laid in Georgia’s Marabda station. A groundbreaking ceremony of the Kars-Georgia border section was held in Kars in July 2008.
The 504-kilometer part of the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway, which has a length of 846 kilometers, passes through Azerbaijan. Meanwhile, 263 kilometers of the railway runs through Georgia, and 79 kilometers – through Turkey.
The Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway will facilitate the access of Central Asian countries – Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, as well as Afghanistan to European and world markets. In the future, the attraction of European and Asian freight traffic to this railway will increase the volume of multimodal transportation in both directions.
It is envisaged that 3-5 million tons of cargo will be transported in the third year of operation, 6-8 million tons of cargo will be transported in the fifth year of operation, and then 3 million passengers and 17 million tons of cargo will be annually transported via the railway.
This shows that, along with Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey will also benefit from transit traffic. All this clearly demonstrates the importance of the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway, its safety, reliability, speediness and timeliness. Once this railway is commissioned, there will be a twofold decrease in time spent for freight traffic as compared to the existing ones, which will further increase the economic benefits of the project.
Another important aspect of the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway is Azerbaijan’s direct railway connection through Turkey and Georgia, using the opportunities provided by the project. This railway will have a strong impact on development of tourism in the region.
Thus, the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway, which is of global significance, connects two continents with steel rails and creates great social and economic benefits.
Most importantly, the commissioning of the railway is the greatest contribution to stability in the region, closeness of peoples and economic development. The basis of this contribution is the unshakable friendship and brotherhood of Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey.