The completion of the construction of the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars (BTK) railway, which will connect Azerbaijan and Turkey will be possible by mid-2015, the head of Azeryolservis JSC (road transport infrastructure) of the Azerbaijani Ministry of Transport, Javid Gurbanov told journalists on Feb.22.
"The process of government change and structural reforms in Georgia became an objective reason for delays in the implementation of the project," Gurbanov said.
Particularly, it led to the delay of the construction of railway tunnel on the Georgian-Turkish border, stretching 4.2 kilometers (2.2 kilometers of which fall to the territory of Turkey), the JSC head said. Despite the fact that laying work of tunnels has been completed in Turkey, the work in Georgia`s territory has started recently due to the mentioned objective reasons and some 70 meters of tunnel have already been laid.
"In total, as part of the construction of the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway, the length of which will make up 180 kilometers, the work on 100 kilometers of the railroad tracks have already been completed. Furthermore, it is also planned to launch test locomotive from Azerbaijan to the Georgian -Turkish border in late 2014 under the project," Gurbanov said.
In accordance with the agreement signed between the Azerbaijani and Georgian governments, the funds has been transferred to Marabda-Kartsakhi Railway LLC through the International Bank of Azerbaijan. Marabda-Kartsakhi Railway LLC was created for designing, construction, rehabilitation, reconstruction and operation of the Marabda section - border with Turkey and relevant infrastructure facilities.
Azerbaijan has allocated a $775 million preferential loan to Georgia for the construction and reconstruction of the Georgian section of the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway.Funding for this project from the State Oil Fund of Azerbaijan is carried out in accordance with a presidential decree on the 'Implementation of measures within Baku-Tbilisi-Kars project' dated Feb.21, 2007.
Some $431.3 million was allocated until January 2013 for financing the project.
It is planned to construct a new 105 kilometre branch railway as part of the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars project. In addition, the section of the Akhalkalaki-Tbilisi-Marabda railway will be reconstructed in Georgia which will increase its capacity to 15 million tons of cargo per year. It is planned to build a centre in Akhalkalaki for the transition of trains from the existing train tracks in Georgia to the European one.
Peak capacity of the corridor will be 17 million tons of cargo. This figure will be at the level of one million passengers and 6.5 million tons of cargo in the initial stages.