The historical silk road is reviving in three countries. The first train service crossing them started operations on 30/10/2017. Through this ‘iron silk road’ through Baku-Tbilisi-Kars, there will be non- stop journeys from London to Beijing. The first journey of the project, completed in 10 years, was attended by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev and Prime Minister of Georgia Giorgi Kvirikashvili.
Transport, Shipping and Communications Minister Ahmet Arslan said, “There were two obstacles in front of a train leaving London to arrive uninterreuptedly to Beijing, one was the Bosphorus, the other was the part between Kars and Ahılkelek. For this purpose, Asia and Europe were connected by rail under the sea. Secondly, the missing part between Kars and Ahırkelek city of Georgia was completed on a cost for Turkey of around 600 million $ and the yearly income is expected to be 1 billion $.
The BTK Rail Project will be come integrated with Marmaray Project which will also enable load carrying from Europe to China, non-stop train. When the line starts operations will have a capacity of carrying 1 million passengers and 6.5 million tons of cargo. The project is also important for the cities in the cover of attraction centers like Kars, Ardahan, Iğdır, Ağrı, Erzurum, Erzincan, Gümüşhane and Bayburt. In addition, the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway line is the third major project constructed 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 laid 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. 2.375 meters of tunnel is located in Turkey and 2.070 meters in Georgia.
This railway which will revive the Historical Silk Road will bring many advantages to the business men, manufacturers, exporters in the relevant cities. And the opportunites should be used very carefully and effectively by the local businessmen. For example, a transportation duration of a good will decrease from 45- 60 days to 15 days. A good coming from Beijing will arrive maximum in 15 days to London.
Until today, due to the high costs, products such as wheat, petroleum derived fertilizers and bitumen from countries such as Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan were not able to be sold to Turkey and the outside world. With the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway line going into service, these products will be able to reach the world markets and it will be possible to transport many products such as construction materials from Turkey to Central Asia at a reasonable cost.
This project will also bring advantages to the local consultancy companies that can develop and support new trade projects of foreign companies. The consultants which are familiar with the region (for example in Turkey in the spesific area) will be very advantegoues and can carry their business areas to various work fields.
Conexio is a consulting firm in Turkey based in Istanbul that provides services to local and foreign companies with commercial or investment interests in the region.