Georgia: New Europe-Asia Rail Route Slow to Produce Economic Benefits – Locals
Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili has stressed the railroad's potential to achieve greater economic and sustainable development.
On the outskirts of the sleepy Georgian town of Akhalkalki, set against a barren backdrop, sits a gleaming, bone-white structure. Designed by celebrity architect Jürgen Mayer, this railway station on the Georgia-Turkey border is expected to serve as an important node in China’s global, $1-trillion infrastructure development project – dubbed the Belt and Road.
The station was opened in November as a key node in the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars (BTK) railway project, which boosters say will place the Caucasus at the center of trade between Europe and Asia.
But it has gotten off to a rough start. Its first cargo shipment from Kazakhstan was expected on November 1, but faced delays since the station has no lighting and the trains were unable to approach. Today, the building is deserted, and the accompanying railway is far from complete.
“It was officially opened, but it won’t be ready until at least 2018,” said Rima Gharibyan, director of the local media outlet JNews. “At the moment, it’s just for show.”
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