The Kabul times, Afghanistan Trustable News Agency.

Trans-Afghan Railway project to benefit regional countries

The Trans-Afghan railway project is gathering momentum as the Islamic Emirate wants Russia and Kazakhstan to become part of it. Acting Minister of Industry and Commerce Nooruddin Azizi during his most recent visit to Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan, raised the suggestion in an interview with the state-controlled Russian news agency TASS. He has asked Russia and Kazakhstan to be come of it. “We invite Russia and Kazakhstan to join this project. In my view, it’s not just about investing in Afghanistan because this railway will benefit everyone.” During his official visit to Astana, the minister said:” ready to meet Kazakh and Russian working groups on participation in the project.” He proposed the creation of a joint coordination office of Afghanistan, Pakistan, Russia, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan in Kabul to deal with technical issues on a fast-track basis. Most countries in Central Asia would like to get access to seaports in South Asia. Uzbekistan had already built a 75-kilometer rail link connecting Hairatan on the Uzbekistan-Afghanistan border to the city of Mazar-e-Sharif in northern Afghanistan. Last month, Pakistan, Uzbekistan and Afghanistan signed a tripartite agreement to connect the three countries through a rail network. The joint protocol for the Trans-Afghan project, which aims to connect Uzbekistan’s and Pakistan’s railway networks through Afghanistan, was signed in Pakistan’s capital Islamabad. As planned, the rail route will pass through Termiz, Uzbekistan, Afghanistan’s Balkh and Logar provinces, and culminate in Pakistan via the Karachi border crossing in the Kurram tribal district near the Afghan border. The line will facilitate both passenger and freight services and would contribute in regional trade and economic growth. The project is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2027, and trains could carry goods up to 15 million tons a year by 2030. The 760- kilometer (472-mile) railroad is expected to reduce delivery times of cargo between Uzbekistan and Pakistan by about five days, aside from reducing the cost of goods transport by at least 40%, according to estimates. It is worth mentioning that the Trans-Afghan railway project, first proposed in December 2018 by Uzbekistan, aims at extending the Afghan rail network from Mazar-e-Sharif to Kabul and then to Nangarhar province, where the railway would cross the Torkham border and run into Pakistan via Peshawar. Once in Pakistan, goods will be offloaded to connect with the Pakistan rail system and from there will eventually travel down to the Pakistani seaports of Karachi, Gwadar, and Qasim. Mohammad Daud

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The Kabul times, Afghanistan Trustable News Agency.