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Georgian Railway on future plans

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Tuesday, June 18
Georgian Railway held a presentation on its development plan on June 17. It was the first large-scale meeting after the new management took over at the railway. Government and parliament representatives, businessmen, as well as local and foreign guests attended the presentation.

Georgian Railway, as the only railway operator in Georgia, unites three business units and five subsidiaries. Due to the country's strategically important location, Georgian Railway is planning various actions that according to the company's representatives will significantly increase state income.

Mamuka Bakhtadze, General Director of Georgian Railway, claimed that compared to former years, income from freight transportation increased by 13%. In addition, 85.7 km of gauge and power supply contact lines were repaired and five new staff members was added to Georgian Railway and more comfort was ensured for consumers' through the installation of air conditioning and a German- engineered brake system.

“Consumers will also be able to enjoy 20-40 % discounts, based on the type of carriage,” Bakhtadze stated.

The general director emphasized that Georgian Railway plans to establish the Enterprise Recourse Planning (ERP) system, ISO 9001 standards and achieve harmonization with the directives of the European Union.

“For 2013 the company is waiting for an increase in turnover. The number of liquid cargo will grow to 870,000 and dry cargo to 200,000. We are also carrying out negotiations with Azerbaijan to establish a tariff on such cargos like cotton, wheat, coal and cargo from Afghanistan (NATO). In the case the negotiations are completed successfully, turnover of Georgian Railway will increase,” Bakhtadze stated.

Bakhtadze stressed that a customs terminal will be built in the yard at Batumi Station for transferring the cargo into carriages inflowing from Turkey. Bakhtadze said that vertical integration is planned in the Black Sea ferry traffic.

Concerning Tbilisi bypass railway Bakhtadze stressed that the complete expense of the project will reach GEL 350 million. That cost is too high and at the present moment the project is suspended. Bakhtadze believes that some engineering approach will be found, unlike the one agreed upon during the leadership of the previous government. This agreement is simply too expensive and unprofitable.

Concerning the reopening of Abkhazian Railway, Bakhtadze stated that it is a political issue and needs agreement on the political level first of all.

Head of the Monitoring Council of the railway, Koka Guntsadze, says that Georgian Railway has very significant future plans.

"Modernization of the railway system, the establishment of new approaches, improved security, attraction of turnover especially from middle Asia, as well as the harmonization of the tariff policy are the main priorities," Guntsadze said.

Minister of Economy, Giorgi Kvirikashvili, focused more attention on the timely completion of the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway, adding that the ministry is also actively engaged in the project.

Businessmen and attendants of the presentation stated that the plans are welcoming. However, they underscored that local companies should be involved in Georgian Railway's activities and the state should ensure equal conditions for all the players linked to this project.