Baku – Baku-Tbilisi-Kars: Prospects Of Huge Transport Project

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TREND Information
08.10.08 12:47

Azerbaijan, Baku, 7 October / Trend Capital 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

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 – in 2011.

There is one more railway line, which at present does not
function. The railway line crosses via Georgia, Armenia and Turkey
– 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 Georgia’s 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 -signed
in 1998), "The Azerbaijan Republic stated that neither rights,
obligation and offers stated in the ‘Main multilateral agreement on
international transport to develop the Europe-Caucasus-Asia corridor’
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
-participants of the Commonwealth of Independent States".

So, the railway communication opening project via the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars
route is more real and economically expedient for cargo transporting
in the region. Project’s 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.