Rail link corridor for Asia-Europe goods finally opens

A new section of railway between Azerbaijan and Turkey, which is set to transform Europe's goods corridor with China, has opened.

He noted that this festive ceremony is attended by guests from fraternal and friendly countries, welcoming Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Kazakh Prime Minister Bakytzhan Sagintayev, Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili, Uzbek Prime Minister Abdulla Aripov and a number of other high-ranking officials.

The line from Baku through the Georgian capital, Tbilisi, to Kars in Turkey is "the shortest and most reliable link between Europe and Asia", Mr Aliyev said.

Top leaders of Azerbaijan, Turkey and Georgia opened on Monday a newly built railway line which connects the three countries in Azerbaijan's capital city of Baku, linking central Asia and Europe through the Caucasus region.

Its initial freight capacity will be 6.5mn tonnes per year but Ahmet Arslan, Turkey's Transport, Maritime Affairs and Communications Minister, says its potential is far greater.

For his part, Aliyev described the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars line as a "historic, global project", praising the funding of the project by the region's own resources.

After departing China, trains will cross into Kazakhstan at the Khorgos Gateway before being transported by ferry across the Caspian Sea toward Baku and then heading to Western Europe via Georgia and Turkey.

While the line offers a shorter route for transporting Chinese goods to Europe by rail, "the competition is really tough", said Akif Mustafayev, the permanent representative in Azerbaijan of the intergovernmental commission of Traceca, an EU-backed transport programme.

The inauguration ceremony draw a host of dignitaries, including the Presidents of Azerbaijan, Turkey, Kazakhstan, Georgia and Uzbekistan. It will play its role in ensuring stability and security in the region. The link "will create completely new possibilities not only in our region but beyond".

Its total cost surpassed $1 billion, with the bulk of the financing coming from Azerbaijan's state oil fund.

  • Joey Payne