169 - Kars Baku Tbilisi railway -Azerbaijan Railways

Baku-Tblisi-Kars railway is almost ready


Laying of rails in Baku-Tblisi-Kars railway project is completed.

The last missing section of Baku-Tblisi-Kars railway project connecting Turkey to Azerbaijan, Central Asia and China is completed. The test train had departed from Kars and arrived Akhalkalaki for the first time.

However, the railway is not ready for commercial traffic yet. The engineering works continue on 29-km-long section between Turkey/Georgia border and Akhalkalaki. There are welding works and precautions for landsliding to be completed. Because of this ongoing works, test train run with a speed of 20-30 km/h on this section, far below the normal commercial speed. All these works are expected to be completed in 2 months and railway will be ready for commercial traffic.

Although freight trains are announced to start within 2 months, there are some issues to be solved before regular freight traffic begins. The biggest obstacle is the terminal service in Akhalkalaki. In july, three countries, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey signed an agreement for terminal service at Akhalkalaki. Another must-have is the custom services at border crossing. This is expected to be solved soon.

The railway will have an important role on transportation of Caspian oil to west. The current traffic between Turkey and Central Asia via Iran will shift to this line. The railway is also expected to get share from China-Turkey traffic as well.

There’s a lojistics center under construction at Kars. However, both the container and the conventional loads have to be transhipped between Azerbaijan/Georgian trains and Turkish trains at Akhalkalaki due to break-of-gauge.

Cover Photo: Azerbaijan Railways ©

Written by Onur Uysal

Railway consultant. Owner of RT Media & Consultancy. Founder and editor of Rail Turkey.

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