ArmInfo. The South Caucasus Railway (SCR) CJSC is the most interested party in the launch of railway services to any destination - Russia, Turkey, Iran, because this would mean only one thing - boosting traffic and railway revenues, Vardan Aloyan, Head of the Public Relations Department of the South Caucasus Railway (SCR), says in an interview with ArmInfo, when refuting the statement of an expert of the Armenian Institute of International and Security Affairs that the SCR allegedly blocks the launch of railway services en route Turkey, Russia, Iran due to the lack of profitability. In particular, the expert blamed the company for the fact that the railway is in a desperate condition and that it is necessary to rehabilitate 40 bridges, as well as the track facilities, except a 72km section, which was rehabilitated at the World Bank's expense.
"In this matter, some figures are absolutely precise. But there are also figures that have nothing to do with the reality. I asked the company's old-timers when the World Bank gave money for the repair of the Armenian Railways' track facilities. They say it was in the 1990s, 25 years ago. At the same time, not a single word is being said about the fact that since 2008 the company has spent 77.6 bln AMD on the infrastructure rehabilitation, repaired 440km of tracks, 37 bridges, and replaced 700 thsd sleepers. The Zamanlin bridge (250 meters) was put into operation in 1898 and has not been repaired since then. The company has actually rebuilt it. Today the Yerevan-Tbilisi train spends less travel time than in 2008, passing the same distance 6 times as fast as in 2008," Aloyan says. He also points out that the railway safety has been enhanced. The number of derailment cases in 2009 was 96 versus 6 cases in 2014.
All these indicators demonstrate the efficiency of investments and the actual condition of the infrastructure. "It is should be noted that the rolling stock is already being repaired in Armenia by our
specialists without any foreign help," Aloyan says. He points out that the SCR is unable to influence the geopolitical processes. "It is absurd to blame us for hindering our own benefit. We are a business structure first of all. When the possible opening of the Armenian-Turkish border was being considered, we immediately rehabilitated our section of the railroad leading to Kars. If a relevant political decision is taken on this matter, we will willingly rail a train to that destination. As regards the Iran-Armenia project, the SCR has signed a relevant memorandum and if the railway is built, we will be able to integrate into the new infrastructure," he says, noting that the company cooperates with the Armenian State Commission for the Protection of Economic Competition. "Naturally, we have some shortcomings aswell. We are working to remove them. But in general, the key development course is correct.
This has also been mentioned during the recent meeting of Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan and President of Russian Railways JSC Oleg Belozyorov. Armenian Minister of Transport and Communication Gagik Beglaryan has also pointed this out at the Parliament," Aloyan says.
To note, SCR CJSC is a 100% subsidiary of the Russian Railways JSC and the concessional manager of the Armenian Railways under the 13 Feb 2008 agreement, which was signed for 30 years and can be prolonged for 10 more years.