"The BTK is the shortest and most reliable route connecting Europe with Asia", said Aliyev.
The leaders of Azerbaijan, Turkey and Georgia launched an 826-km (500-mile) rail link connecting the three countries on Monday, establishing a freight and passenger link between Europe and China that bypasses Russian Federation. The freight train arrived at the new Port of Baku, in Alat, after traversing 2,846 km from north-western Kazakhstan and crossing the Caspian Sea on a rail ferry.
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In addition, the BTK line provides an opportunity for a North-South rail corridor linking Russian Federation as an alternative to a rail route via Iran. It failed to win financial backing from the U.S. and the European Union because the railway deliberately avoided passing through Armenia, whose Soviet-era track would have offered the most direct route to Turkey.
After the ceremony a symbolic driving of railroad spikes and the pulling of railroad switches took place, officially sending off the first cargo train along the BTK railway. "The two states signed the Cooperation Protocol on High Level Education, Cooperation in Education, Memorandum of Understanding on the Conclusion of Preferential Trade Agreement, Cooperation in Defense Industry, Cooperation in Production and Certification of Forage Plants and Protocol on 6th High-Level Strategic Cooperation Council Meeting". Up to 1 million passengers can be transported annually, Trend reported.
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Addressing opening ceremony at Caspian port city of Alat (New port of Baku), Azeri President Ilham Aliyev said that BTK is the shortest and most reliable link between Europe and Asia and 846 kilometer railways route will provide an alternative route to existing rail services carrying cargo from Asia (China) to Europe via Russian Federation and Iran.
On Monday, October 30, 2017, a grand inauguration ceremony was held at the new Port of Baku in Alat, Azerbaijan, for the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars (BTK) railway, a key transport project linking Europe and Asia.
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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the railway "is part of a big Silk Road and it's important that we have implemented this project using our own funds". "It is planned to carry five million tons of cargo in the first stage and 17 million tons in the next stage", he declared.