Passenger Trains for Baku-Tbilisi-Kars Railway to Launch 2016
Azerbaijan has ordered 30 new passenger trains for its newly opened $600million railway route, which directly connects Turkey, Georgia and Azerbaijan.
The Swiss Stadler Rail Group has started production on the passenger cars for the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars (BTK) Railway, the Azerbaijani News Agency, Azernews reported.
According to the news agency the decision was made during the Azerbaijani delegation’s recent visit to Switzerland.
Trains will be fitted to four different categories; standard, comfort, business and the on-board restaurant.
The new 10, 20 and 32-seat passenger cars will have in-built Wi-Fi and other novelties, the agency reports.
Azerbaijani Railways will be getting the first batch of trains for the BTK route in the summer of 2016, with the first 10 cars will be put into operation in July and August 2015 according to the day.az.
Ahmed Sultan Bin Sulayem, the chairman of Dubai Ports Customs and Free Zone Corporation stated that the BTK railway will be able to deliver goods from China to Europe faster, by bypassing the port of Batumi.
The BTK railway line is a regional railway link that will directly connect Kars in Turkey, Tbilisi in Georgia and Baku in Azerbaijan. The total estimated cost of the project is thought to be around $600 million. The Turkish segment will be 76km compared to the Georgian segment which will only be 29km long.
It is hoped that the railway line will improve trade and economic relations between Central Asia, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Iran when connecting with Europe.
The construction of the new 105km branch of the railroad was inaugurated by the presidents of the three regions in Marabda, South Georgia on 21st November 2007. However on 8th August 2009 construction on the railway line was suspended due to the Georgian-Ossetian conflict, as well as other environmental issues.
In February 2014 Azerbaijan’s Transportation Minister, Ziya Mammadov, stated that the project would not be completed before the second half of 2015, with the new sleeping coaches not entering service until 2016-17.
The presidents of Azerbaijan. Georgia and Turkey signed the declaration for the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway connection on 25th May 2005. The key reason for the agreement was the rejection of assistance by the EU and the US as the link bypassed Armenia.
It is believed that the BTK railroad will transport a million passengers and 6.5 million tons of cargo in its initial stage.
By 2030 it is expected to carry an estimated 17 million tons of cargo and approximately three million passengers.