The Baku-Tbilisi-Kars (BTK) Railway, a key link in the modern Silk Road Railway that aims to carry goods between Beijing and London, has been completed, and the first train will hit the tracks on Oct. 30. The first train will depart from the Azeri capital Baku following an inauguration program attended by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Azerbaijan President İlham Aliyev and Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili. The date of the first official run coincides with the liberation day of Kars, a city in northeastern Turkey and the last stop on the BTK line. Initially, the railway is expected to carry almost 1 million passengers and 6.5 million tons of freight annually before unlocking a freight transportation potential of up to 50 million tons per year.
Highlighting the BTK line's importance for Turkey and the region, Transportation, Maritime Affairs and Communication Minister Ahmet Arslan said: "There were two obstacles in uninterrupted goods transport between Beijing and London via railways. The first was the Bosporus Strait. We have solved this problem, as you know. The other one was the missing line between Kars and Akhalkalaki in Georgia. That link is now established through the BTK line."
"After a number of successful test runs, the BTK railway line will be inaugurated on Oct. 30," the minister announced.
"The train will arrive in Kars on the date the city was liberated, and it will revive the Silk Railway with an uninterrupted railway with a historic moment," he added.
Arslan said that the Silk Road Railway would add significant value to countries hosting the line and revive the regional economy. It will also facilitate the delivery of goods to target markets.
The new railway corridor, he said, will enable easier transportation between Turkey and Asia as well as the Caucasus and European countries.
"With the BTK link, around 50 million tons of international freight potential will be unlocked," the minister noted, adding that the project will also benefit Turkish provinces listed among the centers of attraction, including Kars, Ardahan, Iğdır, Ağrı, Erzurum, Erzincan, Gümüşhane and Bayburt.
He underlined that the line will make the region an important center on the new Silk Road, which begins in Beijing and ends in London.
"Transportation of goods manufactured and produced in China as well as raw materials will be facilitated via an uninterrupted line of railways," Arslan said.
"Investors who want to set up logistics centers in Eastern Anatolia and carry goods from the region to other areas are looking forward to the project," he added.