The first railway in Armenia opened in 1899 connecting the city of Alexandropol (present day Gyumri) with Tiflis (present day Tbilisi) in Georgia. Because Armenia was then part of the Russian Empire, the new railway was constructed to the Russian standard gauge of 1524mm (later revised to 1520mm).
Shortly after opening, the line was extended to Kars. At that time the area around Kars was an autonomous oblast of the Russian Empire, but possession was long contested with the Ottoman Empire. The area became definitively part of Turkey only in 1920, thus creating a new land border on the railway line.
In the early decades of the 20th century, a number of further lines were opened, including connections with Azerbaijan, and via Azerbaijan to Persia (present day Iran).
The Yerevan Metro was opened in 1981 by the Soviet Union. It is 13.4 km in length, most of which is underground. It is built to standard (1435mm) gauge.
During the conflicts that followed the dissolution of the Soviet Union in the 1990s, rail links with Turkey and Azerbaijan were severed, and remain closed today.
The network was privatised in 2008 and the concession awarded to South Caucasus Railway, a subsidiary of Russian Railways. The network as concessed consisted of 736 route km, with a further 110 route km between Dilijan and the Azerbaijan frontier in need of rehabilitation. There is one remaining international connection with Georgia. An isolated section in the south, between two regions of Azerbaijan, is out of use.
A feasibility study is under way into the building of a 316 km single-track electrified railway linking the existing network with Gavarr and the Iranian border at Meghri, replacing a disused line which passes through the Azerbaijani exclave of Naxcivan.