Monday, September 14, 2009

On Choo-Choo Trains, Psychic abilities and Long-Shots..

On September 15, Today's Zaman posted an article about Armenia's Ambassador signing an agreement to buy railway trains from Poland, reportedly for use on the railway between Turkey and Armenia.
The Railway between Turkey and Armenia? What railway? And why can an Ambassador from Armenia sign for a Russian Company? Who invests in the potential of a railway that may or may not come to be? Someone who knows or can assure that it will come to be, that's who.
Who controls the railway? Well, let's see:
South Caucasus Railways (SCR) has officially started business operations under a concession agreement to manage Armenian Railways.

In this connection, by 1 June 2008, SCR, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Russian Railways, received property owned by Armenian Railways consisting of 2,000 freight cars, 58 passenger coaches, 85 locomotives and 30 electric trains... The Company plans to promote cooperation with Georgia, Azerbaijan, Turkey, Ukraine and other countries.

That's from a Russian Railways website, and it cites another article which announces that the agreement between Russia and Armenia was signed on February 13th, 2008 [that's right, 6 days before the presidential election], and specifies further
The preliminary investment plan provides for Russian Railways to commit about USD400 million over the 30 years to the development of Armenia’s rail infrastructure. It is also planned to invest some USD170 million to upgrade rolling stock. Russian Railways is guaranteeing the investment.

The concessionaire is expected to begin operations in the second half of 2008.

That's A LOT of money, especially pre-election... in February 2008... that's quite a guarantee, too.. It must have been SUUUCH a gamble...

In fact, by June 4th, 2009:
The Armenian railway is quite ready for the opening of the Armenian-Turkish border, said Shevket Shaydulin, Director General of the South Caucasus Railways CJSC, which has assumed the concession management of the Armenian railway. He told a press conference today that the works to modernize the infrastructures in that direction were under way.

“We are ready to resume the rail communication between Armenia and Turkey. Today there is a distinct program of activities, a business project is being worked out. We are taking corresponding steps to modernize the Akhuryan station at the border,” he said.

Shevket Shaydulin assured that there would be no problems with railway transportation in case the border was opened. The Company intends to make an investment of $900 million in that direction.
I envy that confidence. Or is it prescience?

But maybe its just that in this time of international economic crisis, Russia is overflowing with money. They just loaned $500 million to Armenia, right (see Eurasianet article)?

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