Georgian Railways

Georgian Railways
  • Location: Tbilisi, Georgia
  • Client: Georgian Railways
  • Destination: Tbilisi City Centre
  • Role: Strategic urban development advice to Georgian Railways in aid of a successful application to EBRD for infrastructure finance

A railway bypass around the Georgian capital of Tbilisi will liberate some 80 ha of land in the City Centre for new development.  Rightly recognising this as a once-in-a-generation opportunity to affect the City’s economy and identity, Georgian Railways articulated a 20-year vision for its phased  re-development, accompanied by a delivery strategy and business plan.

The work initiated and led by Dan Anderson provided the justification and due diligence for a €200 million loan from the EBRD and EIB, secured against the phased release of land in accordance with a defined Vision and masterplan.

At a meeting in 2009 with officials from the Georgian national railways company, Dan Anderson was shown plans for a proposed railway bypass that would shift freight and passenger traffic outside of the city centre.  Doing this would release an 80 ha site on the edge of the City Centre.

A lively discussion followed about large scale, transformational urban development projects, such as Cardiff Bay, Canary Wharf, Kings Cross and Salford Quays.  At the request of Georgian Railways, Fourth Street consultants subsequently met in London with representatives of the EBRD to impress on them the scale of the opportunity to do something thoughtful and special with the site that would leave a lasting legacy for the city.

As a consequence of these discussions, Dan was appointed to lead the multidisciplinary team (including architects from Broadway Malyan) that created a 20-year Vision for the site.  This was informed by best practice in European urban regeneration and included a business plan for the project, as well as a proposed delivery structure and strategy.  The document helped to unlock the required EBRD and EIB funding for the bypass, without compromising the longer term opportunity to effect major economic change in the city centre.  The plan was adopted and was followed by an international design competition that attracted proposals from all over the world.

Great credit is due to Georgian Railways and the EBRD for eschewing the financially expedient short term solution in favour of a more thoughtful long term approach that will no doubt have a lasting impact on the city of Tbilisi.