Georgian Railway Starts Roller Service
31 October, 2013
Georgian Railway Starts Roller Service
From November, a special railway terminal will start operation in Batumi near the Georgian-Turkish border and will carry Turkish cargos and trucks to Asian directions. This project is expected to bring bigger pecuniary benefits to the Georgian State budget than it has from the transit at the moment, as well as obvious traffic congestions on Georgian trunk highway, to be further overloaded by Turkish trucks which in turn would also poison the ambient air heavily.
As the trade turnover between
Turkey and Azerbaijan as well as Central Asia increases, truck traffic on Georgian main motorways running from Georgian-Turkish border [near Batumi Black Sea Port] to Azerbaijan becomes almost inaccessible for light cars. The road is jammed by around 100 thousand heavy Turkish trucks transporting cargos from Europe and Turkey to the east up to Caspian sea ports of Azerbaijan and carrying Armenian-bound cargos too. Although Turkey and Azerbaijan have no official trade with Armenia due to political tension with this country it is an open secret that cargos do move between Turkey and Armenia through Georgia that handles it as re-export. As a matter of fact, Georgia bridging Turkey with Central Asia and Azerbaijan gets no direct financial benefit as vehicle transit is free. However, the transit related service does contribute to value making chain and the state budget. But Georgian drivers and population along the main motor way complain that driving became dangerous as Turkish truck drivers are careless, often cause accidents but manage to avoid responsibilities. Besides, population suffers from intensifying air pollution from the trailers. To alleviate the situation, Georgian Railway (GR), the state owned enterprise, has already started construction of a special customs terminal in Batumi that switches trailers and cargos to railway and will become operational starting this November, Dachi Tsaguria, a spokesperson of GR informed Georgian Journal. The terminal will be handling at least 200-300 tons initially. The capacity will be increased on par with the demand. The new service will be cheaper and safer to Turkish drivers and also will bring direct benefits to Georgian economy as GR will manage to get more cargos. Besides environmental problem will be eased as the traffic turnover drops. To promote the project, GR held a presentation of the suggested railway roller project on 23 October 2013 in Istanbul, attended by around 400 carriers. The project has been forwarded to around two thousand international carriers and caused a big interest, Tsaguria stated. According to GR, the railway roller project is beneficial to the Asian bound Turkish transportation companies because they would need no investment if they use GR roller compared to at least USD 500 thousand that they have to invest [to purchase vehicles] currently.
Also, railway transportation is safer and cheaper for long distances. It is a common knowledge in the carrier business. Though, whether or not the project will be profitable depends on the GR’s tariff and service, Zurab Shengelia, Head of Association of Georgian Carriers, admitted adding that “time is very important in carrier business.” Gia Tsipuria, Director General of Georgian International Carriers’ Association (GIRCA), reminds that this sort of railway roller model did not justify itself economically in Europe and its success in Georgia will depend on tariffs and train schedules. GR does not disclose details of its tariff and service policy as of yet. Tsaguria just assures that tariffs will be almost symbolic to attract cargos. At any rate, Tsipuria does not expect that GR may take more than 2% of the entire truck turnover. “However nothing can be said for sure before the projects starts,” he said.

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