Baku Tbilisi Kars Railway Tunnel. Photo: tdmmb.org.tr

Baku Tbilisi Kars railway project

The railway project connects Kars (Turkey) to Baku (Azerbaijan) and Central Asia via Tbilisi (Georgia).

Project owner:

  • Kars-Akhalkalaki: TCDD (Turkish State Railways)
  • Akhalkalaki-Baku: Azerbaijan Railways

Contractor: Özgün Yapı & Çelikler Consortium (Kars-Akhalkalaki section)

Length: 838.6 km in total

  • Baku – Azerbaijan/Georgia border: 503 km (Broad gauge – 1520 mm)
  • Azerbaijan/Georgia border – Akhalkalaki: 230 km (Broad gauge – 1520 mm)
  • Akhalkalaki – Turkey/Georgia border: 29 km (Standard gauge – 1435 mm)
  • Turkey/Georgia border – Kars: 76.6 km (Standard gauge – 1435 mm)

Route

Baku Tbilisi Kars Railway Map
Baku Tblisi Kars Railway Map by Maximilian Dorrbecker

Sections

  • Baku – Tbilisi: Currently in use. Broad gauge (1520 mm).
  • Marabda (Tbilisi) – Akhalkalaki: 160 km. Constructed in 1986 and stayed idle for a long time. Thus it’s being renewed. Broad gauge (1520 mm).
  • Akhalkalaki – Kars: 101 km. Under construction. Funded by Turkey. There are 22 tunnels (18 km long in total) and 2 viaducts (550m long in total) along this section. Standard gauge (1435 mm).

Target commission date: 2017

Why Baku-Tbilisi-Kars Project Stagnated?

Trains

  • Azerbaijan Railways plan to run Baku-Istanbul passgenger train. Train will have 1st and 2nd class sleepers made by Stadler. They can run on both broad gauge and standard gauge.
  • Freight trains will work mainly between Akhalkalaki-Baku and Akhalkalaki-Turkey. Akhalkalaki will become a transhipment terminal.

Connections

  • Azerbaijan : Both passengers and goods will continue to Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan by crossing Caspian Sea.
  • Turkey:
    • Passengers may interchange to Turkish passenger trains via Kars, Sivas, Kayseri and Ankara.
    • Freight trains may continue to Turkish terminals as well as to Europe (by ferry until 2018, through Marmaray Tunnel by 2018).

Travel time: It’s announced that Baku-Istanbul train will complete the trip in one day. It doesn’t seem possible to cover 2600 km in 24 hours. By 2018, Sivas-Ankara-Istanbul high speed train will be available which may make it possible to reach from Baku to Istanbul in 24 hours.

Ridership: The railway will have 1mn passenger/year capacity. By the construction of second line in 20 years, the capacity will be increased to 3 mn.

Freight volume: The railway will have 6.5 mn ton freight capacity. That will be increased to 17 mn to in 20 years.

Rolling stock:

  • Passenger: Azerbaijan Railway will run 3 sets of passenger trains between Baku and Istanbul. The coaches are produced by Stadler, each having 257 bed capacity.
  • Freight:
    • Wagons of Turkish State Railways (TCDD) and Turkish private companies are expected to run between Turkey and Akhalkalaki.
    • Along Akhalkalaki-Tblisi-Baku, wagons of Azerbaijan and Georgian Railways will run.
    • Some of the Georgian/Azerbaijan wagons may continue until Kars by changing their bogies.
Sleepers for Baku Tbilisi Kars

Project cost: TL 12.15 bn

History

  • 1993 – Turkey-Armenia border crossing closed.
  • January 2005 – Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey agreed for a new railway connection.
  • August 2007 – Azerbaijan agreed to fund the section in Georgia.
  • November 2007 – Kick off ceremony at Marabda (Tiflis) by participation of presidents of three countries.
  • May 2008 – Özgün Yapı & Çelikler Consortium awarded for the section Turkey overtook. Contract period: 700 days.
  • July 2008 – Construction works started at Kars. Target commission date was announced as 2010.
  • Commission date was first postponed to 2015, then to 2016, and then to the end of 2017.
  • June 2014 – Azerbijan Railways agreed with Stadler for the production of passenger coaches to run between Baku and Istanbul.
  • January 2015 – First test train run on renewed Ahkalkalaki-Tblisi section.
  • July 2016 – Turkish Transport Minister Ahmet Arslan stated that 87% of railway is completed and test runs will start in December 2016.
Baku-Tbilisi-Kars Railway project in 10 questions

Cover Photo: TDMMB

Related Articles:
No more delays on Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway
10 Things to Know About Baku-Tbilisi-Kars Railway Project

2 thoughts on “Baku Tbilisi Kars railway project

  1. I’ve been following this project off and on for quite some time. It stands to strengthen links between Turkey with Asia — and that’s all to the good!

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