The inauguration ceremony of the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars Railway Project took place at the Alat Port of Baku, Azerbaijan on 30 October 2017. Attending the ceremony were President of the Turkish Republic Mr Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Mr İlham Aliyev, Prime Minister of the Republic of Kazakhstan Mr Bakıtcan Sagintayev, Prime Minister of the Republic of Uzbekistan Mr Abdulla Aripov and Prime Minister of the Republic of Georgia Mr Giorgi Kvirikaşvili.
In concurrence with the opening, one of the rings of the New Silk Way initiative was put into operation and the most important pillar of the Middle Corridor was completed when the train of the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars Railway Project made its first journey.
The rail route is composed of 108 km of double track from Kars (Turkey) to Akhalkalaki (Georgia), 155 km of single track from Akhalkalaki to Tbilisi, 566 km of double track from Tbilisi to Baku. From Baku through both Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan it is possible to reach Middle Asia and China.
The total length of the line is 829 km, of which 79 km is in Turkish territory, 246 km is in Georgian and 504 km is in Azerbaijani territories.
The border crossing between Turkey and Georgia is provided by a tunnel. The 2.375 metres of the tunnel is in Turkish territory and 2.070 metres is in Georgian territory. For the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars Railway Project 79 km of new railway line has been constructed in the Turkish section and 105 km of new railway has been constructed whereas 154 km of railway line has been renovated in the Georgian section. 503 km of railway line have been rehabilitated for the project in the Azerbaijani section.
The Baku-Tbilisi-Kars Railway Project will not only accelerate the integration process with Europe via the development of cooperation in Eurasia but also will provide a basis for promoting economic relations between East and West by increasing the trade volume.
After the inauguration of the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars Railway Project and with the start of freight operations in Marmaray in İstanbul, a connection will be established between the countries in Middle Asia and the Caucasus to the European and world market.
The railway line can transport one million passengers and 6.5 million tonnes of freight. By 2034 the projection for passenger transport is three million passengers and 17 million tonnes of freight.