757 - Azerbaijan RailwaysRailway Infrastructure

Is transport without transhipment possible at Baku-Tbilisi-Kars?

Would it be possible to transport goods on Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway without any need of transhipment?

The Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway where first freight train will depart by the end of this month, is announced to provide continuous service between Turkey and Central Asia. On the other hand, the railway systems are different in these countries. CIS countries use broad gauge where Turkey is using standard gauge similar to Europe. Thus a TCDD wagon cannot proceed to Georgia. Then what will happen? How continuous run will be possible without making any transhipment?

Here are the solutions for break-of-gauge:


The most popular solution for break-of-gauge is container trains. All trains running between China and Europe are such trains. The terminals at the point of break-of-gauge tranship containers from one train to another.

The traffic on Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway will mainly be done by container trains as well. Akhalkalaki terminal, which is close to Turkey-Georgia border is the point of break-of-gauge, will be the terminal for transhipments. Containers will be transhipped between Turkish and Azerbaijan wagons there.

Bogie Change

Another solution is to change the wheel systems (bogies) of wagons, so that they continue without any transhipment.

For this, a bogie-change-facility is under construction at Akhalkalaki. This is a little more expensive, but a better solution for non-container trains.

Unfortunately, it’s not possible to axle-change of Turkish wagons, but wagons of Azerbaijan, Georgia and Russia have this type of wagons. Some of these wagons with suitable width and heigh will continue to inside Anatolia.

Special trains with variable-gauge

Some trains have special wheel systems designed to move on different rail gauges. Stadler’s train which will give service between Istanbul and Baku will have such property. Neither the passengers nor the wheels will not have to interchange while crossing from one gauge to another. However, it seems not possible to have this system become widen in freihgt trains.

Cover Photo: Azerbaijan Railways ©

2 replies »

  1. I wonder whether three-rail-tracks would be a solution. I found conflicting information on whether such a rail is possible for standard and Russian broad gauge. Of course, this also depends on where the trains will come from / go to.

    • You would have to use a non-standard rail profile (grooved, 1520mm and vignol, 1435mm hybrid), reducing maximum speed to 60km/h.


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