Previous day, Kars-Tblisi-Baku project was again on media, as the first trial train departed from Turkey arrived Georgian border. So, is everything ready about the project?
The rail stretch from Kars to border is ready
As seen in the details of ceremony, the train went till the Turkish-Georgian border. The 76.6 km long Kars-border section is ready by now.
Further rail connection is not ready
The 29-km-long border-Akhalkalaki section is not ready yet. The construction on this section is being done by Turkey.
Akhalkalaki-Tbilisi-Baku is ready
The participants of ceremony had been taken from border to Akhalkalaki, and then travelled to Tbilisi by train. Thus, Akhalkalaki-Tblisi section is ready for train services. This section was already ready before this project, but has been modernized for more capacity.
Firs passenger train in September
Transport Minister of Turkey stated that first train will depart in September. This means the 29-km-long section will be completed within two months. It is not very clear if a trial train (like this one) will run in September, or regular passenger train services will start.
Luxurious Ankara-Baku sleeper in 2018
Even if the line is ready in September, the luxurious train which is going to work between Ankara and Baku is not expected to start this year. The train was unveiled last year in Innotrans and was announced to start service in 2018.
No uninterrupted travel until 2018
The Ankara-Baku sleeper can run both on Turkish standard rail gauge and Georgian-Azerbaijani broad gauge. Thus travellers will not have to change train at Akhalkalaki. But all other trains can only run till Akhalkali and travellers will have to interchange to another train there.
Not everything ready for freight trains
Even if the line is ready in September, freight trains are not expected to start immediately. For this, a terminal is needed at Akhalkalaki to tranship containers from Turkish trains to Georgian-Azerbaijani trains or vice versa. In the ceremony, a protocol is signed to construct such a terminal.
Cover Photo: TCDD ©