Baku-Tbilisi-Kars Railway Line Officially Launched

Turkish PM thanks Georgian PM for contribution to Baku-Tbilisi-Kars Railway

The inauguration at the Port of Baku in Alat, Azerbaijan was attended by Azerbaijan president Ilham Aliyev, president Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, Kazakhstan's prime minister Bakytzhan Sagintayev, prime minister of Georgia Giorgi Kvirikashvili and Uzbekistan prime minister Abdulla Aripov.

The leaders of Azerbaijan, Turkey and Georgia launched an 826-km (500-mile) rail link connecting the three countries on Monday, establishing a freight and passenger link between Europe and China that bypasses Russian Federation.

He noted that the BTK railway is also the most important economic project for Turkey.

The railway is expected to transport 5 million tonnes of cargo per year initially, rising to 17 million tonnes over time, Mr Aliyev said.

Aliyev said at the ceremony that the 826-kilometer railroad is the "shortest and most reliable link between Asia and Europe".

When President Erdogan spoke, he highlighted the strategic importance of this project for the revival of ancient-new Silk Road.

According to Georgia Rail the project effectively opens a new rail-only corridor from the Caspian Sea to Europe via Turkey, excluding the need for sea transportation with the opening of the Marmaray rail tunnel under the Bosporus.

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

After the ceremony, the line's first freight train set off from the Port of Baku on its four-day journey to Mersin in Turkey.

Addressing opening ceremony at Caspian port city of Alat (New port of Baku), Azeri President Ilham Aliyev said that BTK is the shortest and most reliable link between Europe and Asia and 846 kilometer railways route will provide an alternative route to existing rail services carrying cargo from Asia (China) to Europe via Russian Federation and Iran.

The project, which included 105 kilometers of new track, was launched in 2007.

The opening of the 846km route marks the completion of a 10-year project to provide an alternative to existing rail services carrying cargo from Asia to Europe that go via Russian Federation and Iran.

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