Baku-Kars Railway Construction to End in 2012

06BAKU (Combined Sources)—Georgian and Azeri officials Monday said that despite some delays, the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway, which was slated to be operational by 2010, will be completed by 2012.

The railway, a joint project between Turkey, Georgia and Azerbaijan, envisions linking the three countries and provide a transport route to Turkey from Central Asia and Asia. The proposed project was initiated when US and European countries refused to finance similar projects, citing the exclusion of Armenia from the route.

Construction of the railway began in November 2007, with Turkey and Azerbaijan both funding the route in their respective countries and Azerbaijan providing a $200 million loan to Georgia for the construction of the 29-kilometer that will stretch through Georgia.

Bidzina Bregadze, Director of Georgia’s Marabda-Kartsahi Railway Company said that recent events in Georgia, including last year’s war with Russia had impeded the transfer of funds and slowed down the process.

There also appeared to be technical problems forcing the rail link to be rerouted since an original tunnel site was identified as an avalanche route and deemed dangerous.

The 76-kilometer railway is estimated to cost $600 million.

The Georgian stretch of the railroad will go through the predominantly-Armenian region of Akhalkalak in Samtskhe Javakheti.

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