Azerbaijan, Georgia, Turkey launch new Asia-to-Europe rail link

Saul Bowman
October 31, 2017

It will help to reduce the journey time between China and Europe, Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev said at the launch ceremony in the town of Alyat in the oil-rich Caucasus nation.

"Participation of delegations from the Central Asia and Kazakhstan, and high-level officials at this event is a clear evidence of it", said Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev addressing the opening ceremony of the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railroad.

Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Turkey have launched a rail link connecting the three countries, establishing a freight and passenger link between Europe and China that bypasses Russian Federation and Armenia.

First container trains formed in Kazakhstan and China arrived today in Baku's Alat port from the Kazakh port of Kuryk, Sagintayev said, adding they will further be sent along the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars route. We were first to support the implementation of the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars project.

For his part, Aliyev described the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars line as a "historic, global project", praising the funding of the project by the region's own resources.

"The railway is a new Eurasian bridge, connecting not only the economies of our countries but also our citizens", Kvirikashvili said at the opening.

"It's planned to carry 5 million tons of cargo in the first stage and 17 million tons in the next stage".

After departing China, trains will cross Central Asian country of Kazakhstan before being transported by ferry across the Caspian Sea towards Baku and then heading to Western Europe via Georgia and Turkey. Azerbaijan and other countries on the route will have to offer lower tariffs and simplified customs procedures to win business and avoid delays, he said. It will play its role in ensuring stability and security in the region.

The project build the railway was launched in 2007 with an agreement between Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey. "The project will have impetus to tourism and new jobs will be created", he added.

Its total cost surpassed $1 billion, with the bulk of the financing coming from Azerbaijan's state oil fund.

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