THE government of Georgia was expected to approve on January 17 the construction of the long-planned Kars - Tbilisi rail link, following an agreement between the transport ministers of Georgia, Azerbaijan and Turkey at a meeting in Tbilisi on January 12.

Now costed at US$422m, the project involves construction of a 98 km new line between Kars and Akhalkalaki, of which 68 km is in Turkey and 30 km in Georgia, and upgrading the existing line from Akhalkalaki to Tbilisi and Baku.

Azeri Transport Minister Ziya Mammadov said his government would provide a US$200m low-interest credit to Georgian Railways. Work is expected to get underway this year for completion by 2010.