Transportation - Azerbaijan
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Baku: Train station (photo by Miguel Torres)
Baku main station
Azerbaijan has 2,125 kilometers of rail lines, excluding several small industrial lines. Most lines are 1.520 metre broad gauge, and the principal routes are electrified (1,278km). In the 1990s, the rail system carried the vast majority of the country's freight.

As with the highway system, one of the two main lines parallels the Caspian Sea coast from Russia to Iran before heading west to Turkey, and the other closely parallels Route M27 from Baku to the Georgian border. A major spur also parallels the highway to Xankandi. Another smaller rail line begins just west of Baku and hugs the Iranian border to provide the only rail link to Azerbaijan's Nakhichevan Autonomous Republic, isolated southwest of Armenia. Passenger service from Baku to Erevan has been suspended. In 1994 passenger service from Baku to Iran also was halted.

Azerbaijan: railway lines - mapSome improvements to the network  have been made in the last few years, with EU funding, but the government estimates that 700 kilometers, or about one-third, of the rail system are in such poor condition that reconstruction is necessary. Much of the system has speed restrictions because of the poor conditions of the rails.

The network and the trains are operated by Azerbaijan State Railway (ADDY - Azerbaycan Doövlet Demir Yolu). Some investment has been made in trains recently with the consequent reflexes in the quality of services.

Azerbaijan - ADDY - Lankaran / Lenkoran: locomotive - Azerbaycan Do÷vlet Demir Yolu (photo by F.MacLachlan / Baku there are train connections with Tbilisi in Georgia and Derbent in Dagestan (Russian Federation), as well as Moscow, Rostov, Kiev, Kharkiv (Ukraine), Brest (Belarus) and other major cities in the CIS. The train between Baku and Tibilisi, Georgia, is inexpensive, but it takes about 20 hours and the occasional bandit raid and frequent burglaries make it less than completely safe. The train stops twice at the border - long delays are routine on both sides. Expect to pay the price of your ticket again at the border as a bribe. A luxury train also runs to Tblisi: the "Silk Road Express", tickets start at 200 Euros, round-trip. Fares include sleeping compartments, dinner and a full breakfast in the train's restaurant car.

There is a railway connecting the autonomous republic of Nakhichevan with Tabriz in Iran, but there are not yet any connections to the main part of Azerbaijan.

Call Baku Railway station on 982039 or e-mail ADDY at

Azerbaijan - Baku: train to Tbilisi - Baku train station - photo by N.MahmudovaThe overnight train services come in 3 classes:

- total: 57,770 km
- paved: 54,188 km
- unpaved: 3,582 km (1995 est.)...
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Road Map
Road Map
One of the country's two main routes runs parallel the Caspian Sea coast from Russia to Iran, passing through Baku. The other, Route M27, leads west out of the capital to the Georgian border. A major branch from this route heads south through Stepanakert, capital of Nagorno-Karabakh.

Azerbaijan - Lankaran / Lenkoran: bus leaving Lankoran - near the Bazaar (photo by F.MacLachlan / major towns have a paved road connection with one of the principal routes. An extensive intercity bus service is the primary mode of intercity travel. Maintenance of the system has deteriorated since independence in 1991, however, and one study estimated that 60 percent of the main highways were in bad condition, resulting in excessive wear on vehicles and tires and in poor fuel consumption. Therefore 4-wheel-drive vehicles are recommended for journeys into the mountains, e.g. west of Quba. Traffic drives on the right. (See driving).

You can take buses from Baku to the major cities in Azerbaijan as well as the neghbouring countries (e.g Derbent in Dagestan, Tehran in Iran, Istanbul in Turkey and Tblisi in Georgia). The bus station is on Izmir av., tel. 388581.
Azerbaijan - Baku: over the harbour - photo by M.Torres
Baku harbour
Ports: Baku

Shipping services operate regularly from Baku across the Caspian Sea to Turkmenbashy (formerly Krasnovodsk) in Turkmenistan and to Bandar Anzali and Bandar Nowshar in Iran. The boats to Turkmenbashy take about 300 passengers on a 12 hour voyage and sail on average three times a week. Winter storms may disrupt these services. Call Baku sea port on 930268.

Azerbaijan - Baku: harbour - western section, including the military harbour - Azerbaijan's navy - Caspian Flotilla - photo by M.TorresAlthough situated at an excellent natural harbour, Baku has not developed into a major international port because of its location on the landlocked Caspian Sea. The port serves mostly as a transshipment point for goods (primarily petroleum products and lumber) crossing the Caspian Sea and destined for places to the west, or for passenger service to ports on the eastern or southern shores of the Caspian Sea.

The port has seventeen berths, of which five are dedicated for transport of crude oil and petroleum products, two are used for passengers, and the remaining ten handle timber or other cargo. The port can accommodate ships up to 12,000 tons, and its facilities include portal cranes, tugboats, and equipment for handling petroleum and petroleum products. The port area has 10,000 square meters of covered storage and 28,700 square meters of open storage.

Azerbaijan - Baku: Azerbaijan State Caspian Shipping Company - anchors - photo by Miguel TorresMerchant marine:
- total: 54 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 246,051 GRT/306,756 DWT
- ships by type: cargo 12, petroleum tanker 40, roll on/roll off 2 (2002 est.)

Pipelines: crude oil 1,130 km; petroleum products 630 km; natural gas 1,240 km
Pipeline Map
Pipeline Map

Baku is the centre of a major oil- and gas-producing region, and major long-distance pipelines radiate from the region's oil fields to all neighboring areas. Pipelines are generally highcapacity lines and have diameters of either 1,020 or 1,220 millimeters. The main petroleum pipeline was completed in 2005 under American pressure to limit Russian and Iranian power in the area. It runs from Baku via Tblissi to Ceyhan in Turkey, therefore the acronym BTC. It made partly obsolete the old Soviet pipeline pumping crude oil from the onshore and offshore Caspian fields near Baku west across Azerbaijan and Georgia to the port of Batumi, where the oil is either exported in its crude form or processed at Batumi's refinery. Two natural gas lines parallel the old petroleum line as far as Tbilisi, where they turn north across the Caucasus Mountains to join the grid of natural gas pipelines that supply cities throughout Russia and Eastern Europe.
Batumi: Azeri oil arriving by rail (photo by Miguel Torres)
Batumi: Azeri oil 
arriving by rail

As seen with the construction of pipeline to Ceyhan in Turkey, the routes for new pipelines are one of the great decisions and debates for the area, with geo-political considerations becoming heavier than either economical or technical criteria. The US, Russia, Turkey, Iran, Georgia... all try to influence decisions on the transportation of fossil fuels from Azerbaijan.

Airports: 52 (2002)

Azerbaijan - Baku: AZAL Azerbaijan Airlines Boeing 757-22L - Baku airport, Geydar Aliyev - GYD, at night - photo by Miguel TorresAirports - with paved runways:
- total: 9
- 2,438 to 3,047 m: 5
- 1,524 to 2,437 m: 4 (2002)
Baku airport

Airports - with unpaved runways:
- 1,524 to 2,437 m: 7
- 914 to 1,523 m: 8
- under 914 m: 28 (2002)

TRACECA programme - Tovuz railway bridge (photo TRACECA)Baku is poised to become a major regional transportation and communications hub for the Trans-Caucasus and Central Asian republics. The TRACECA Programme (Transport System Europe-Caucasus-Asia, informally known as the Great Silk Road) was launched by the European Union (EU) in 1993, and encourages the development of a transport corridor on an East-West axis from Central Asia through the Caucasus, across the Black Sea, to Europe. In 1998 twelve nations signed a multilateral agreement known as the Baku Declaration to develop the transport corridor through closer economic integration, rehabilitation and development of new transportation infrastructure, and by fostering stability and trust in the region. The corridor includes all forms of transport.

(sources: CIA, Library of Congress, Britannica, EIA)
see also: urban transportation in Baku, airport, maps, driving, images, summary, places

A to Z of Azerbaijan / A dan Z ye Azerbaycan