The first railway line on the territory of the present Republic of Armenia was opened in 1899. It connected Tiflis (now Tbilisi) with Alexandropol (now Gyumri). In 1902, the Alexandropol – Erivan (Yerevan) section was opened as well.
The railway in Armenia actively developed up until 1988. It was almost completely electrified. Nevertheless, the railway network of Armenia in comparison with those of other Soviet republics was one of the most backward. There have never been double-track lines here, and the traffic has always been slow.
For several months after the catastrophic earthquake of December 7, 1988 (with more than 25 thousand dead and large-scale destructions in the towns of Spitak, Leninakan, Kirovakan, and other settlements in northern Armenia), the railway was the “road of life” for equipment and humanitarian supplies necessary for clearing the rubble.
Since the beginning of the 1990s, the railway on the territory of Armenia fell into decay – for some time, it almost did not work. In 1989-1994, Armenia was in a state of active war with Azerbaijan. All railway lines leading to Azerbaijan were inoperative from this moment.
In 1992, the last train departed Yerevan for Moscow. This route was shut down due to the military conflict in Abkhazia.
The railway crossing to Turkey (Akhuryan – Doğukapı) has been inactive since the late 1980s. Movement recovery plans are discussed periodically, but the likelihood of their implementation is low.
On February 13, 2008, a Concession Agreement was signed in Yerevan on the transfer of the state-owned Armenian Railways CJSC to the management of the South Caucasus Railway CJSC, which is a subsidiary of Russian Railways OJSC.
Railway lines in the south of Armenia (Kapan – Meghri – Karchivan) were not transferred to either the Armenian Railway or the South Caucasian Railway. Since about 1991, the section of the railway in the south of Armenia has been isolated – traffic was possible only within the territory of Armenia.
According to unconfirmed reports, the site was transferred to the disposal of the Armed Forces of Armenia. Until about 2007, a part of this line was used to deliver people and goods to hard-to-reach border outposts located on the border of Armenia and Iran.
The immediate plans for the development of the railway imply the construction of the Vanadzor – Fioletovo line (in the vicinity of Dilijan). It is also planned to build the Hrazdan-Gavar-Kapan-Meghri line, crossing most of the areas of Armenia and creating an exit to Iran.
However, it can hardly be implemented in the near future – the length of the line will be about 200 km, and its construction will be extremely expensive.