Istanbul, Turkey, Dec.5
By Abbas Akhundov - Trend:
The first pilot train, timed to the opening of the railway on the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars route, will be launched in late 2014, Azerbaijani Transport minister Ziya Mammadov said at the panel discussions during the third Caspian Forum in Istanbul on Dec.5.
"Implementation of the project, which is a logical result of cooperation between Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey, continues dynamically. After the start of the Marmaray project, launching the BTK will establish direct transport links between Europe and Asia," Mammadov said.
The minister went on to say that at the same time a new international sea trade port in Alat settlement in Baku is being constructed. Mammadov said there are plans to establish a large logistics center in the area as well.
"Upon completion of the first stage, it will be possible to transport 10 million tons of cargo and 50,000 containers of a large volume per year. At subsequent stages, the amount will increase to 25 million tons of dry cargo and one million tons of containers," Mammadov said.
The third Caspian Forum organised by the Caspian Strategic Institute (HASEN), has brought together senior officials, representatives of companies and leading experts from all over the world.
During the forum, projects in the areas of energy, transport and finance in the Caspian Sea region will be discussed and opportunities for future cooperation studied.
Azerbaijan has allocated a $775 million preferential loan to Georgia for the construction and reconstruction of the Georgian section of the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway.
Tranche A, worth $200 million, has been allocated for 25 years at one per cent rate annually (has been covering operations on project since 2007), and tranche B, worth $575 million has been allocated for 25 years at a five percent rate annually.
The need in allocation of tranche B was connected with the increase in world prices of construction and raw materials, revaluation of Marabda-Kartsakhi branch railway's current condition, conducting operations in unfavourable weather conditions and others.
It is expected that annually 30 million tons of cargo will be transported via the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway, which will have a direct access to the European railway network.
The Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway will increase the flow of containerized, bulked and other types of cargo from Asia to Europe.
The Marmaray rail tunnel that connects the Eastern and European parts of Turkey was commissioned on October 29.
The length of the tunnel is 13.6 kilometres. Trains depart every two minutes. The transport capacity for each direction will be about 1.2 million passengers per day.
After commissioning the tunnel, the volume of rail transport in Istanbul will increase by 20 per cent, up to 28 per cent of the total transit volume.