Silk Road countries to promote railway investment

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Asian and the Central European railway giants are trying to explore new opportunities in railway construction, and discussed the ongoing Euro-Asia railroad project at Railworld Summit in Istanbul, Turkey on Wednesday.

Nazim Bukulmez, deputy head of RP&C Department of Turkish State Railways (TCDD) told Xinhua, although there are still challenges facing the railway infrastructure of the Silk Road countries, progress couldn't be underestimated.

He said, apart from infrastructure problems, countries along the ancient trade route also need to deal with administrative and bureaucratic barriers, especially their customs regulations. Bukulmez also hailed the potential of the modern Silk Road, saying the market share worth some 75 million U.S. dollars.

One of the key project that will constitute an important part of the transcontinental railway is Baku-Tibilisi-Kars project.

The project, which will be finished in 2015, will be used to transport passengers as well as goods, said Akaki Saghirashvili, deputy infrastructure director of Georgian Railway.

Saghirashvili also said Georgia is working with a Chinese construction firm to modernize the country's existing railway. The project is expected to be finished by the middle of 2018.

According to Saghirashvili, the upgraded railway will see its capacity and safety greatly improved.

"Currently the capacity of the railway is 27.2 millions tones annually. We are going to increase this up to 46.6 million tones," he said.

China can now presents the Eastern European countries, as well as Turkey, good chances of promoting their railway development by offering both high-speed train technology and financial support.

China National Machinery Import and Export corporation has been conducting high speed railway project with Turkey. And it is responsible for a section of the railway between Eskisehir and Istanbul of the Ankara-Istanbul project.

The Eskisehir-Istanbul railway is expected to be opened in a month, according to the TCDD officials, and the original seven- hour trip can be reduced to 3.

Over the last ten year, 1724 km railway has been constructed in Turkey, while 2050 km are still under construction, Bukulmez stated.

Last year, Turkey has increased its investment in railway projects to almost 4,000 million U.S. dollars, while in 2003 the figure was 838 million dollars.

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