First train from China arrives in Georgia - New Silk Road now officially open
17 December, 2015
First train from China arrives in Georgia - New Silk Road now officially open
On December 13, the first transit train from China arrived to a station in Georgia, thus marking the opening of the “Silk Railroad.” The train’s arrival was met with a celebratory ceremony attended by Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Gharibashvili, Director of Georgian Railways Mamuka Bakhtadze and acting Chinese Ambassador to Georgia. According to head of the Georgian government, the Silk Road project is a historical commitment that will significantly increase the amount of foreign investment and jobs in Georgia.

Cargo
sent from Lianyungang, China’s easternmost port city, will take a maximum of 14-15 days to reach Istanbul, which is quite incredible, given that the same journey by sea takes about 45 days.


It is noteworthy that on its way to Georgia, the train went through Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan and will pass through Georgia to Turkey next. In the future, this railway transit route is expected to provide a fast, accessible connection between Europe and Asia. Cargo sent from Lianyungang, China’s easternmost port city, will take a maximum of 14-15 days to reach Istanbul, which is simply incredible, given that the same journey by sea takes about 45 days.

Jiao Hui Sing, acting ambassador of China to Georgia:

“First of all, accept my sincere congratulations on arrival of the train sent by China that went through Central Asia, the Caspian region and the Caucasus, with its eventual destination being Europe. This is a monumental result of the initiative put forward by China’s president two years ago, and on behalf of China, I thank Georgia for the significant contribution to making this initiative a reality. The train that just arrived into Tbilisi has managed to connect China, Central Asian countries, the Caucasus and European states with each other, which will in the future bring us a lot of opportunities for developing our relations even further.

This is also significant in the history of relations between Georgia and China in particular. We take the subject very seriously, in no small part due to Georgia’s advantageous geographical location. The route between China and Europe through Georgia is the shortest and the cheapest, repeating the path of the original Silk Road.”

According to the Chinese diplomat, the “economic belt” formed by the project will allow countries that it touches to develop their economy, improve their social background and maintain peace. Jiao Hui Sing also noted that Georgia is the first country in the region to begin negotiations with China regarding free trade.

Mamuka Bakhtadze, director of Georgian Railways:

“This is an extremely important, historical event. We spent two years working on this project with our colleagues. Its implementation was connected to completion of numerous other technological and logistical projects and we have managed to successfully achieve this.

The starting point of this new Silk Road is South Korea. Then it passes through China, Kazakhstan, Caspian Sea, Azerbaijan and Georgia, eventually reaching its final destination in Istanbul, Turkey.”
As Mr. Bakhtadze claims, the first train that arrived to Tbilisi was performing a service for large companies such as DHL and Vestel, which points at the fact that global transit operators are very interested in the new railroad: “As for precise numbers and advantages, our route is four times more efficient than sea transit. It also significantly reduces property-related risks,” he explained.

The second transit train will arrive to Tbilisi from China before December is out. The project’s framework envisions transportation of several thousand cargo containers in 2016. Increase to the country’s transit potential that such a workload provides is, quite obviously, vast.

Author: Rusudan Shelia
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