Azerbaijan advances on the railway along the Zangazur Corridor

The construction works of the first section of the three-phase Horadiz-Aghband railway are nearing completion. The railway is an integral part of the Zangazur multimodal corridor, which connects the Azerbaijani mainland with its southwestern enclave of Nakhchivan.

According to officials of the Azerbaijan Railway Company, tracks have been laid for 23 kilometers between the town of Horadiz in Fuzuli district and Mahmudlu railway station in Jabrayil district.

The Horadiz-Aghband railway, whose foundations were laid by Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev in February 2021, will be 110.4 kilometers long. The construction of the railway takes place in three stages.

The first stage includes the construction of a 30 kilometer section of the railway and the stations of Horadiz, Marjanly and Mahmudlu. A 55 kilometer segment of the line and Soltanly and Gumlag stations will be commissioned under the second stage, while the final phase includes the construction of a 25.4 kilometer railway and Minjivan stations, Bartaz and Aghband.

“It is planned to build eight stations, three tunnels, 41 bridges, four overpasses and a total of about 300 man-made engineering structures along the entire route of the railway,” said Mahammad Naghizade, head of railways. from Azerbaijan.

Ninety percent of the works have already been completed under the first stage, as well as nine bridges, two junctions and 52 emergency junctions have been constructed. Elements of the railway superstructure have been laid on the 23 kilometer stretch of the route allowing trains to be launched in test mode.

Currently, work is underway to prepare the railway track on the second section from Mahmudlu Station to Gumlag Station. The project is expected to be completed in 2023.

Construction of the Zangazur Corridor is one of the economic benefits brought to the region after Azerbaijan won the Second Karabakh War in 2020 and liberated its territories from decades-long illegal Armenian occupation.

Armenia and Azerbaijan had been at odds for almost thirty years over the latter’s Karabakh (Garabagh) region, which fell under Armenia’s control following an all-out war from 1991 to 1994. The bloody war saw Armenia occupy 20% of the international territory of Azerbaijan. recognized territories. More than 30,000 Azerbaijanis have been killed and a million have been expelled from these lands as part of a brutal policy of ethnic cleansing carried out by Armenia. Following the Armenia-Azerbaijan war in the early 1990s, Nakhichevan became completely isolated from the Azerbaijani mainland after Armenia shut down energy, electricity and transport connections, including highways and railways to and from the region.

On September 27, 2020, the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict took a violent turn when Armenian forces deployed in occupied Azerbaijani lands shelled military positions and civilian settlements in Azerbaijan. During counterattack operations that lasted 44 days, Azerbaijani forces liberated more than 300 settlements, including the towns of Jabrayil, Fuzuli, Zangilan, Gubadli and Shusha, from almost 30 years of illegal Armenian occupation. The war ended with a tripartite declaration signed by Armenia, Azerbaijan and Russia on November 10, 2020. Under the agreement, Armenia also returned the occupied districts of Aghdam, Kalbajar and Lachin to Azerbaijan.

The liberation of Azerbaijani lands created many opportunities to reshape the regional economy, trade and transportation. The Tripartite Declaration called for the implementation of various issues of regional importance, including the restoration of all economic and transport links, one of which is the Zangazur Corridor.

Azerbaijani government officials are convinced that such regional transport projects, including the Zangazur Corridor, could foster peace and cooperation and create new opportunities. According to some analysts, the corridor would add a new artery to the East-West and North-South intercontinental transport corridors. The launch of the Zangazur Multimodal Corridor is expected to benefit all countries in the region and contribute to Eurasian trade and transport that integrates regional economies with a nominal GDP of $1.1 trillion.

Azerbaijani and Armenian leaders reaffirmed the agreement to proceed with the unblocking of regional transport communications during a trilateral meeting with European Council President Charles Michel in Brussels on December 14, 2021.

Although the Armenian authorities have confirmed plans for the construction of another segment of the Zangazur Corridor through the country’s territory, no practical steps have yet been taken. According to Armenian Deputy Prime Minister Mher Gregorian, it will take $200 million and three years to build the 45-kilometer railway section. However, the launch date of the project remains unknown.

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