ASIA: The Baku – Tbilisi – Kars railway has re-opened for freight traffic following a year-long maintenance and rebuilding programme on the Georgian section of the line.

Work on the 170 km section between Marabda and Akhalkalaki began in May last year and was completed on May 20.

The first service to use the upgraded line carried soda ash from Turkey to Azerbaijan on May 23, followed by a train carrying raw plastic from Azerbaijan to Turkey’s Mediterranean port of Yenice on May 24.

Commenting on the reopening, Turkey’s transport minister Abdulkadir Uraloğlu said the 757 km Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway had carried 1·47 million tonnes of freight since it opened in October 2017.

Uraloğlu said the Turkish government hopes to increase the number of block trains using BTK to 200 per year in the mid-term and 1 500 per year in the longer term, and to reduce the journey time between China and Turkey from 12 to 10 days.