New Rail link to Georgia

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Tim B

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Perhaps this is a little obscure for a UK railways site.

Does anyone have any inside or local information about the progress of the Kars-Akhalkalaki-Tbilisi-Baku railway, the regional rail link project to directly connect Turkey, Georgia and Azerbaijan. Per Wikipedia the project was originally to be completed by 2010 but is now scheduled for completion by 2012.

I cannot find anything more than what is on Wiki or vague State Railway press releases. I guess Azerbaijan (who I believe is funding the scheme) is not famous for its PR skills ! :|
 
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W-on-Sea

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Agreed that Azerbaijan and PR don't go together...

Georgia and PR (or grand displays that perhaps hide seamier realities)...however, like a horse and carriage, that.

Still, I can't find anything (on the Russian version of) the Georgian railways website (I can't even come close to reading Georgian...) - but I did find some fairly recent news stories from Russian-language (and hopefully credible) source.

http://www.tert.am/ru/news/2012/04/25/baku-tbilisi-kars/ (An Armenian site),in an article published in April. says construction should be complete this year, with an introductory ("working") service running before the end of the year, with the full service starting next year

While this Azerbaijani source http://news.day.az/economy/336958.html?crnd=95608 in an article published in June says that construction was delayed by weather conditions in Georgia earlier this year (I know there was some severe flooding in Tbilisi, but I'm not sure if that is what is alluded to) - presumably not, as the tunnel at the border of Turkey and Georgia is mentioned as one place where the construction delays occurred. This article also gives next year as a date for the commencement of full operations.

I've been vaguely keeping an eye on this for some time, and haven't seen anything more conclusive, or recent - but well, deadlines in the Caucasus do tend to shift...
 

Tim B

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Thanks for these links, mate. My Russian is just about up to reading them but your summary makes it much easier !

Strange that it is reported in the Armenian media. You'd expect Armenia to be dissing the project in that it serves to isolate the country even more than it is already. It seems the project would have attracted EBRD or bi-lateral funding had they upgraded the existing line through Gyumri in Armenia.
 

gordonthemoron

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train line from Kars goes to Armenia, so unless there is a new line which was not present when I was there in March, I don't think anything is happening soon, there is not a cat in hell's chance of Turkey/Armenia reopening either their rail or road crossing anytime soon
 

Tim B

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No, it's a completely new 100 km stretch of line from Kars to Akhalkalaki in Georgia, then upgrading the exisiting Akhalkalaki - Tbilisi line. Interesting that you were very recently in the area and saw no sign of any works.
 

jessicatandy

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Drove past the old rail line to Tibilisi in Akhalkalaki last year, it looked it very poor shape, was expecting people to be working on it. Noticed no construction on the Turkish side either.

The Yerevan to Gyrumi train drives along the border not far from Kars, the turnout to Turkey is still there.
 
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