‘Iron silk road’

18 March 2008

Construction of the Kars-Tbilisi-Baku railroad-known as the ‘Iron Silk Road’-will begin with a ceremony in the Georgian capital Tbilisi on September 20 this year, according the Azerbaijani Transportation Ministry.

A ministry statement said Turkey, Georgia, and Azerbaijan have signed the necessary agreements for the project, which will connect Turkey to Azerbaijan and Central Asia.

The railway, expected to cost US$ 420 million, is seen as a major step in linking the ex-Soviet Caucasus region south of Russia to the west. Azerbaijan is providing a US$ 220 million loan to Georgian railway builder Marabda-Kartsakhi Railways, of which the first instalment of US$ 40 million has already been transferred for the construction in Turkey, said Turkish transport ministry oficials.

The Ministry said railroad construction would be completed in late 2008. Azerbaijan expects the railways freight capacity to be 3 million tonnes per year in 2008, reaching 15 million tonnes by 2015.

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