The historical silk-road was opened by President Erdoğan of Turkey, Ilham Aliyev President of Azerbaijan and Giorgi Kvirikasvili Prime Minister of Georgia on October 30th 2017. Thanks to the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway line a train will be able to go all the way from London to Beijing, uninterrupted.
The first journey of the project completed in 10 years was attended by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev and Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili. Ahmet Arslan, Turkey’s Transport, Shipping and Communications Minister said, "There were two obstacles in front of this project; Bosporus strait and the missing part between Kars and Ahlkelek. For this purpose, we connected Asia and Europe by rail, under the sea. We also completed the missing part between Kars and Georgian city of Ahlkelek”. While the cost of the project to Turkey is USD 600 million, it is expected that the annual turnover will reach 1 billion dollars.
The BTK Railway Project, which will integrate into the Marmaray Project, will make it possible to carry freight from Europe to China by rail, uninterrupted. According to the information provided by Arslan, the line will have a capacity of carrying 1 million passengers and 6.5 million tons of cargo when it is taken into operation. And the project is important in terms of attraction it will provide for towns such as Kars, Ardahan, Iğdır, Ağrı, Erzurum, Erzincan, Gümüşhane and Bayburt. In addition, the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway line was the third largest project realized by all three countries after the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan and Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum projects in the energy sector.
The Baku-Tbilisi-Kars Railway Project, which was tendered in 2007 and funded in July 2008, has 79 kilometers in Turkey, 246 kilometers in Georgia and 504 kilometers in Azerbaijan. In the project, transportation from Turkey to Georgia is provided by border tunnel. 2 thousand 375 meters of tunnel is located in Turkey and 2 thousand 70 meters in Georgia.
The BTK Railway Project is supposed to be very important for the region as it has to do with the transportation of goods across the whole continent of Asia. It is expected to contribute to trade among countries in the whole region as well as employment.
The cost of the project for country is $ 600 million, but the annual turnover is forecasted as one billion dollars. 45-60 day shipping time will be reduced to 15 days. A load going from Beijing to London will take maximum of 15 days. It is also expected that 1 million passengers will be carried annually.