Azerbaijan Railways Company (ADY) has reported that around 1.5 million tons of cargo has been transported via the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars (BTK) railway line since its launch in 2017.
According to the company’s data, the total amount of goods deliveries via BTK amounted to 432,284 tons in 2022, showing a nearly 30 percent increase from 2021, Baku-based Report news service informs.
The 826 kilometer-long BTK line links Azerbaijan’s railway network to the railroad grid of Türkiye and enables an easier and faster rail connection between China, Central Asia, and Europe. Starting in Baku, trains on BTK rails cut through Georgia’s capital Tbilisi towards the final destination of Kars in northeast Türkiye. A 504-kilometer portion of BTK passes through Azerbaijan, while Georgia and Türkiye are home to 263-kilometer and 79-kilometer sections of the railroad, respectively.
The BTK railroad cuts the overland journey between China and Europe to 15 days instead of 25-45, making it twice as fast as sea transport and less than half the price of air travel.
In its full swing, annual cargo deliveries on the line will reportedly reach 17 million tons. In October 2022, Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev said the transportation capacity of BTK will be increased to 5 million tons of cargo per year and Baku has already developed investment programs.
Meanwhile, Baku-Tbilisi-Kars also forms part of a 5,000-kilometer-long Middle Corridor stretching from the northwestern Edirne province of Türkiye to the Katonkaragay district on the eastern edge of Kazakhstan.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Chavushoglu believes the international actors are increasingly interested in leveraging the potential of the Middle Corridor.
“We know that Japan has already tried this line. We are pleased to see that the United States supports logistics investments in Tbilisi,” the minister said at the Second Meeting of Türkiye-Azerbaijan-Kazakhstan Trilateral Meeting of Foreign and Transport Ministers in Kazakhstan in November 2022.
“Transporters such as the Austrian Federal Railway Company, Maersk from Denmark, and Nurminen from Finland have started to use the Middle Corridor more,” he added.
According to him, the overall amount of cargo transportation via the Middle Corridor was six times that of conveyed in 2021.