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Thursday, 07 December 2017 18:30

Baku-Tbilisi-Kars connects 14 countries of the world, Ahmet Arslan Featured

  One of the important advantages of the Trans-Caspian central corridor is the possibility of access to the countries of the Mediterranean and North Africa

Caspian Energy (CE): Mr. Arslan, could you please tell about the plans on operation of the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars transport corridor?

Ahmet Arslan, Minister of Transport, Maritime Affairs and Communications of the Republic of Turkey: As you can see from the map, the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway project enables to reach the Great Britain, France, Belgium, Germany, Austria, Hungary, Serbia, Bulgaria, Turkey, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and China.

This project is the result of joint efforts and decisions of Turkey, Azerbaijan and Georgia. With the commissioning of the 829km Baku-Kars railway, the construction of one of the main sections of the Trans-Caspian central corridor was completed.

Baku-Tbilisi-Kars project’s key objective is to create a new energy corridor in the region

Works on the project were commecned on May 4, 2008 after the approval of the construction site. The groundbreaking ceremony for the railway was held in Kars on July 24, 2008 and was attedned by the heads of state of Turkey, Georgia and Azerbaijan. The rialroad is 829 km long, including 504 km in Azerbaijan, 246 km in Georgia and 79 km in Turkey. The entire Turkish section is a newly built line. In Georgia, the 29km section of the line is a newly built line, 155 km of the line have been reconstructed, and the 62km section of the line is the old section. The railways stretching via Azerbaijan and Georgia meet the standards of the Soviet times, having the 1,520mm track gauge. The railways of Turkey comply with the IRIS standards (International Railway Industry Standards), so their track gauge is 1,435 mm. For this reason, the bogie exchange station was built at the Akhalkalaki station in Georgia to implemnet the break-of-gauge. After commiisoning the line is expected to handle 1 million passengers and 6.5 million tonnes of cargo. By late 2034 the railroad capability will reach 3 million passengers and 17 million tonnes of cargo. In the longer term, we plan to increase the capacity to 50 million tonnes.

Large part of Turkey's current trade with the CIS countries (Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan) will be shifted to Baku-Tbilisi-Kars

This line has a tremendous potential for freight transportation. The travel time for cargo transportation from China to the EU countries along the southern and northern corridors, including sea transport, is approximately 45-62 days. If the same cargo is transported to the EU countries along the central corridor, then the travel time will be only 12-15 days. Our target market covers all countries along the historic Silk Road. The Baku-Tbilisi-Kars project’s key objective is to create a new energy corridor in the region. We intend to supply petrochemical products of Azerbaijan throughout the world by means of this line. At the same time we believe that a large part of Turkey's current trade with the CIS countries (Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan) will be shifted to this line.

Cargo transportation via the Marmaray line will be performed starting December 31, 2018...

CE:Which international transport projects is Turkey currently implementing?

Ahmet Arslan: Over the past 15 years Turkey has launched large-scale infrastructure reforms. The main goal of our transport investments is to ensure fast and uncongested traffic between Asia and Europe.

We also have great expectations for the period until 2123

The Marmaray project (railway communication via the strait), which we implemented in 2013, connected the two parts of Istanbul under water. Currently Marmaray is used only for passenger transportation, and once the rest line is over, cargo transportation will be performed along this route starting December 31, 2018. Cargo transportation is expected to be carried out at night from 1.00 am to 5.00 am. In 2021, 8.8 million tonnes of cargo are expected to be transported via the Marmaray line.

We are working on creation of a high-speed railway line from Edirne city located in the west of our country towards Kars

With the commissioning of the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars and Marmaray projects we enable uninterrupted railway connection between Asia and Europe.

As far as railway projects are concerned, I also would like to highlight that we are currently working on creation of a high-speed railway line from Edirne city located in the west of our country towards Kars in the eastern part of the country. We are in talks with the Chinese side on this project.

By means of the Eurasia Tunnel and Northern Marmara Highway projects we enabled underwater connection between the Asian and European continents with the help of the Third Bosphorus Bridge, Yavuz Sultan Selim Bridge. To carry out rail transportation via the Yavuz Sultan Selim Bridge commissioned in August 2016, works on construction of the railway line are currently underway.

Another our project across the strait is the Three-Tier Istanbul Tunnel. The middle tier of the tunnel is projected under the metro line, while the two other tiers will be used for the passage of vehicles.

In addition, using the Canakkale 1915Bridge, for which the groundbreaking ceremony was held on March 18 of this year, we will ensure the fourth connection between Europe and Asia. This bridge with a total length of 3,860 meters will be the longest bridge in the world. The bridge is scheduled to be commissioned in 2023 during the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Republic of Turkey.

The Gebze-Orhangazi-Izmir Highway is the largest infrastructure project in the history of our country. Once commissioned, this highway with a total length of 433 km will enable to reduce the travel time from Izmir to Istanbul from 10 to 4 hours. The important section of this project is the Osman Gazi Bridge. Its construction was ended in June 2016.

 

You can read a full version of the interview in the next issue of the Caspian Energy Journal

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