The Abkhazian railway consists of a 101 km (63 mi) rail line along the Black Sea coast. Built to 1,520 mm (4 ft 11 5⁄6 in) standard Russian gauge, it connected Russia's North Caucasus Railway with Georgian railways prior to 1992;. The connection with Georgia was severed as a result of the War in Abkhazia. The railway is administered by the state-run Abkhazskaya Zheleznaya Doroga (Russian: Абхазская Железная Дорога, Abkhaz: Аҧсны Аиҳаамҩа) company.
The bridge over the Inguri River was blown up on 14 August 1992, which was the day when Georgian forces entered Abkhazia and is the date considered as the start of the War in Abkhazia. The pretext for sending the Georgian National Guard to Abkhazia in 1992 was to protect the railroad. The bridge was subsequently restored but blown up again in 1993, after the end of the war.
The track between Achigvara and the Inguri River was dismantled. The rest of the railway line also suffered greatly during the war. After the war ended, traffic was restored along the line. The railway system of Abkhazia was isolated in the 1990s, due to the blockade imposed by Russia.
On 25 December 2002 the Sochi-Sukhumi elektrichka train made its first run since the war, which let to Georgian protests. As the number of Russian tourists greatly increased in the 2000s, the Psou-Sukhumi section was mainly repaired by Russia in 2004 and on 10 September 2004 the Moscow-Sukhumi train first arrived in the capital of Abkhazia.
The Ochamchira-Sukhumi, Sochi-Sukhumi and Tkvarcheli-Sukhumi elektrichkas, that had operated at various times from 1993, no longer operated by 2007 due to various infrastructure problems. The last of the elektrichka, Gudauta-Sukhumi, was closed down on the end of 2007. The Adler-Gagra train service was resumed on 26 June 2010 by the Don-Prigorod company.
There have been proposals to restore destroyed parts of the railway and re-establish rail traffic between Russia and the Trans-Caucasian countries of Armenia and Georgia. The alternative route through Azerbaijan is significantly longer and not available at all, in the case of Armenia, due to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Georgia has long tied the restoration of rail traffic with the return of refugees to Abkhazia.
On 15 May 2009 the Abkhaz leader, Sergey Bagapsh, announced that Abkhazia's railway and airport would be transferred to Russia with management rights for ten years, a decision which caused a negative outcry in Abkhazia. According to the Abkhaz tycoon and opposition party leader, Beslan Butba, this has led to growing anti-Russian sentiment in Abkhazia.
Currently there is one daily train connection from the Russian Federation to Abkhazia, running from Adler to Sukhumi and returning the same day.
- Абхазская Железная Дорога (Abkhazian railway) (Russian)
- История абхазской железной дороги (History of the Abkhazian railway) (Russian)
- АБХАЗСКАЯ ЖЕЛЕЗНАЯ ДОРОГА: общие сведения, (Russian)
- EURASIA INSIGHT, ABKHAZIA AND GEORGIA: READY TO RIDE ON THE PEACE TRAIN? (cached), 8.5.2005
- Официальный визит Председателя Парламента Грузии Нино Бурджанадзе в Российскую Федерацию, (Russian)
- Прекращено движение поезда Сухум - Гудаута, 8.1.2008
- Don-Prigorod news, 30.06.2010
- (Russian) В Абхазии наблюдается тенденция роста антироссийских настроений: интервью лидера партии ЭРА Беслана Бутбы. Regnum, 22.5.2009