Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey must work to attract cargo to be transported through the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars (BTK) railway, which is under construction, the Minister of Economic Development of Azerbaijan Shahin Mustafayev said during a speech at the trilateral Azerbaijani-Georgian-Turkish business forum in Gabala on Saturday.
"In the future, we should strengthen the provision for the BTK railroad and seek to attract the largest possible volume of cargo. Today there is a tough competition, so we need to strengthen the role of the transit corridor. The launch of BTK will create very favorable conditions for cargo transportation from Asia to Europe," Mustafaev said.
According to him, the relations between the three countries have great potential, and transit opportunities greatly increase this potential.
"The work within the project is progressing well and on schedule. The railway will be put into operation on the scheduled date," Mustafayev said.
Azerbaijan provided a loan worth $775 million for construction of the Georgian section. 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.
In future, with completion of the Marmara project (construction of a tunnel under the Bosporus), access to Europe will be provided using the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway.