The heads of Russian Railways (RZD), Azerbaijan Railways (ADY) and Turkish Railways (TCDD) signed a trilateral memorandum on cooperation which takes into account the possibility of constructing a broad-gauge line along the 76-km Akhalkalaki (Georgia) – Kars section, which is part of Baku-Tbilisi-Kars route. The track would be the second line on the existing section, providing smoothly transport services between the two type of railway systems. The trains running the BTK must switch between broad and standard gauge at Akhalkalaki, on the Georgian-Turkish border. BTK line comprises 76-km of new 1435 mm-gauge section in Turkey, from Kars to Kartasakhi (Georgia border, in Akhalkalaki Municipality), and here, the trains are switching to 1520 mm-gauge line for operation in Georgia and to Baku.
Under the agreement, the parties intend also to build a terminal and logistics centre in Kars.
Under the memorandum, the three companies will implement joint actions to ensure regular rail traffic along the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars route, including the establishment of commercially viable tariffs and the attraction of a new cargo base.
“The memorandum we have signed opens up the way to the development of transport along the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway line which is currently being built under the leadership of Azerbaijani Railways. This means that Turkey is being linked to the common technological space of the railways in the countries of the former Soviet Union, as well as to Finland, Bulgaria and Iran, all of which are working in constant and close cooperation with each other,” the CEO of RZD, Oleg Belozerov, said at the signing ceremony.
Currently, 6 million tonnes per year are being directly shipped between Russia and Turkey, with another 20 million tonne using different transport modes, including by rail.
“At the same time, cargoes from the Trans-Siberian Railway which have been dispatched from the Republic of Korea, China and other countries in the Asia-Pacific region will be transported along the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars corridor, ” Belozerov explained.
In the near future, the development of the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars corridor will create the preconditions for organising regular container traffic on a regular basis and incorporate Turkey into the system of Eurasian transport corridors. New freight will be shipped along the line and new opportunities to develop international logistics will appear.