Georgia, Tbilisi, Jan.26 / Trend, N. Kirtskhalia /
There is no problem in the construction of the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars Railway and work is underway in accordance with the schedule, Turkish Transport and Communications Minister Binali Yildirim said in Tbilisi on Wednesday.
Today, talks on the implementation of the construction project of the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway continued in Tbilisi. Yesterday's talks were attended by the Azerbaijani Transport Minister Ziya Mammadov and Georgian Infrastructure and Regional Development Minister Ramaz Nikolaishvili. Today the Turkish Transport and Communications Minister Binali Yildirim joined them.
"We have already conducted all the necessary works envisaged by the plan in our section; there is no delay from the plan," the Turkish minister said.
In turn, Ramaz Nikolaishvili said that the Georgian side is also carrying out the work in accordance with the schedule.
"Some 53 percent of the work has already been done. This can be considered a success. The Georgian side should build a 29-kilometer-long railway and 4.5-kilometer-long tunnel, while the Turkish side - 70 kilometers," he said.
Nikolaishvili said that at present talks are underway with the Azerbaijani side to increase the amount of the loan worth $200 million granted to Georgia, as cost of operations has increased.
Georgian minister didn't specify the figures on the new cost of operations.
In turn, Mammadov said that the railway, which is under construction, has state significance for all countries of the region and will allow establishing a direct communication between Europe and Asia.
"This project is under the constant attention of three countries' presidents, and they control the construction course," he stressed.
Mammadov said that the allocation of additional loan to Georgia is already being discussed at the level of the Azerbaijani and Georgian finance ministers.
"The presidents instructed the ministers, and I think that there will be no problems," he stressed.
Mammadov also said that now the problem of bringing wagon wheels in accordance with standards is being solved, as European standard is in force in Turkey, but wheel track is wider in Georgia and Azerbaijan.
"Perhaps, technical station will be built in Turkey, which will solve issues with replacement of wheel pairs," he said.
The Azerbaijani government is willing to provide an extra $500 million to finance the construction of the Georgian section, an Azerbaijan Railways source told Trend earlier. Earlier, Azerbaijan allocated a $200-million loan from the State Oil Fund of the Azerbaijan Republic to construct the section. The loan covers 25 years with an annual rate of one percent.
A new 105-kilometer railroad branch will be constructed as a part of the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars Railway. About 76 kilometers will stretch via Turkey, 29 kilometers through Georgia. Moreover, an Akhalkalaki-Tbilisi-Marabda railway section will be reconstructed in Georgia to increase transport capacity up to 15 million tons of cargo a year. A point of train transition from the existing train tracks in Georgia to the European one is planned to be built in Akhalkalaki.
The construction of the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars Railway, which will connect the railway systems of Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey, will be completed in the first half of 2012, Mammadov told Trend earlier. But, despite the agreed terms of the implementation of the project, the sides are working to accelerate the process and complete most of the operations by late 2011.
The corridor's peak capacity will hit 17 million tons. Initially, its capacity will reach 1 million passengers and 6.5 million tons of cargo.