Baku-Tbilisi-Kars: Prospects of Huge Transport Project

Azerbaijan, Baku, 7 October / Trend corr S.Aliyev / Project on construction of a new railway communication Baku-Tbilisi-Kars may be considerably accelerated. This route will become an only transport corridor for cargo delivery from Caucasus and Asia via Caucasus to the Mediterranean Sea and back after the completion of the Georgian-Ossetia conflict.

It is necessary to construct 29-km railway section in Georgia (till the border with Turkey) and 76-km section in Turkey to open communication on this route. Establishment of a new branch will enable to increase considerably cargo traffic via the Azerbaijan-Georgia-Turkey transport corridor.

Construction of submarine tunnel under the Marmara project in Turkey will enable to unite this transport corridor with Europe. A 1.3km-long submarine section of the tunnel, which is laid under Bosporus, will become a component part of 70-km railway road and elevated subway. It is expected to finish both projects on the same term ї in 2011.

There is one more railway line, which at present does not function. The railway line crosses via Georgia, Armenia and Turkey ї Tbilisi-Gumri-Kars. Earlier goods turnover between the USSR and Turkey was realized through this route. Repeated statements of the project sides, which mention reasonability to resume traffic via the Tbilisi-Gumri-Kars route, do not seem serious on the background of the latest developments in the region. After the Georgian-South Ossetia conflict, realization of the project does not seem as possible until the restoration of Georgiaїs territorial integrity (return of Abkhazia to Georgia).

In its turn Turkey in 1993 closed its borders with Armenia, which led to delay in communication via the route. The possible cargo transporting via the Tbilisi-Gumru-Kars from Azerbaijan or through the country is impossible before restoring the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan.  Azerbaijan joined two fundamental agreements in cargo transportation sphere in the region with clause due to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

Under the clause to the Main multilateral agreement on international transport to develop Europe-Caucasus-Asia corridor (TRASECA їsigned in 1998), їThe Azerbaijan Republic stated that neither rights, obligation and offers stated in the `Main multilateral agreement on international transport to develop the Europe-Caucasus-Asia corridorї and its Technical enclosures, will be used by the Azerbaijani Republic for transporting purposes through its territory for which the territory of the Armenian Republic is initial, transit or final. The similar clause is available in the `Transit order through state territories їparticipants of the Commonwealth of Independent Statesї.

So, the railway communication opening project via the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars route is more real and economically expedient for cargo transporting in the region. Projectїs economical efficiency is to accelerate cargo supply term to Turkey and ports in the Mediterranean Sea from Asia and back. Main cargo transport type, which is expected via the transport corridor, will be container traffic.

Experts forecast about 1mln passengers and 6.5mln tons of cargo will be transported in the first stage of works (since 2010) on the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars communication. In 2034, this index will reach 3mln passengers and 18mln tons of cargo.

The Baku- Tbilisi-Akhalkalaki- Kars project includes the construction of 105km-railway lines, with 76 km section running via Turkey and 29 km section via Georgia. Moreover, 183 km section of Akhalkalaki-Marabda-Tbilisi railway will be also reconstructed to improve the carrying capacity to 15mln tons of cargo per year. It is planned to build in Akhalkalaki a place for the transition of trains from the track existing in Georgia to the European one. The project is estimated at $422mln and taking into consideration the accompanying infrastructure its cost will comprise $600mln.

The correspondent can be contacted at [email protected]

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