Baku, Azerbaijan, Feb. 13
By Maksim Tsurkov - Trend:
The Baku-Tbilisi-Kars (BTK) railway initiated by Azerbaijan is undoubtedly the main regional transport project of the 21st century, which is becoming increasingly popular. The BTK railway will serve to increase the transit potential of the countries of the region.
This railway connected Asia with Europe. Of course, such railways already existed, but namely the BTK is the shortest and quickest way for delivery of goods from one part of the world to another. Another important advantage of the BTK is safety, which is important for all participants of cargo transportation process - the sender, the carrier and the recipient.
The BTK railway became one of the popular topics of discussion at the World Economic Forum in Davos. Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev spoke about the railway to the leaders of the countries and the biggest companies of the world.
The Central Asian countries, including Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Afghanistan, as well as Pakistan, China and India, showed particular interest in the project. All of them are big and promising markets.
The BTK railway was opened on Oct. 30 last year, and more than 500 containers have been transported via it so far. The transportation will only grow in the future.
Javid Gurbanov, head of Azerbaijan Railways CJSC, told reporters last week that the first cargo train from Austria to Kazakhstan will soon be sent via the BTK. Thus, this will be the first and obviously not the last cargo train from Europe to pass along the railway. The Czech Republic, Bulgaria, the Baltic countries are also interested in the use of the BTK railway.
Even Russia, which has own railway network, showed interest in the BTK. Javid Gurbanov said that Russian metallurgical companies are ready to send 70,000 tons of metallurgical products from Russia to Turkey every month. Turkey itself is also unlikely to miss the opportunity to establish cargo flows by rail to Russia.
In May this year, passenger transportation along the BTK will be launched. Passengers will also be able to freely travel from Asia to Europe and in the opposite direction via the BTK railway through Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey, and further through the railway tunnel under the Bosphorus strait.
In general, Azerbaijan’s entire railway infrastructure has been flourishing in recent years. In accordance with the relevant instructions of Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, the existing railway lines are being upgraded, modern rolling stock is being purchased, and several important projects will be launched this year.
The speed of trains will increase as a result of the reconstruction of the Baku-Boyuk Kasik railway (part of the BTK). In addition, the investment program for this year envisages modernization of the Baku-Yalama and Baku-Astara (Azerbaijan) railways, construction of the Baku suburban railway with the creation of 23 new stations at the same time.
Laying the railways to Azerbaijan’s Gabala district and the Shahdag Mountain Resort and their subsequent possible merger will also become the most important projects.
Thus, thanks to the attention and care of the Azerbaijani president, the railway transportation, which is one of the main parts of Azerbaijan’s transport system, is now at the stage of rapid development and within the next 5-7 years the Azerbaijani railways will be brought to the international level. This will bring significant dividends to Azerbaijan’s economy and will make life easier for Azerbaijani citizens who will be able to safely, quickly and conveniently travel across the country.
Maksim Tsurkov is Trend News Agency’s staff journalist, follow him on Twitter: @MaksimTsurkov