A ceremony was held at Aqina1 in Afghanistan on 30 October 2016 to mark the laying of the final rails for the new railway from Atamurat2 in Turkmenistan to Afghanistan via the border crossing at Imamnazar.3
The new line is around 88 km long, with about 85 km on the section as far as Imamnazar and about 3.55 km on the cross-border secton which runs into Afghanistan.
Guests at the ceremony included Engineer Mahmoud Baligh, Afghanistan’s Minister of Public Works (the MPW includes the Afghanistan Railway Authority), Turkmenistan’s Minister of Railways and the country’s Ambassador to Kabul,4 Special Envoy to the President of Afghanistan on the CIS countries Shakir Kargar as well as representatives of the railway builders, media and local authorities.5
Atendees “greeted the symbolic moment with the storm of applause” when a “powerful tracklaying machine of the construction units of the Ministry of Railway Transport of Turkmenistan” laid the final rails and sleepers.6 Minister of Public Works Mahmood Baligh said co-operation with Turkmenistan to build the railway network would not only be beneficial for neighbouring countries and peoples, but would also contribute to widening mutually beneficial regional and international economic co-operation that meets the interests of peace, stability and sustainable development.
The project included the construction of two 5.8 m wide bridges over the River Karakum, one 363 m long and one 256 m long, which were built by Turkmenistan in co-operation with specialists from Ukrainian company Altcom.8
— Wahid Waissi (@WahidWaissi) October 16, 2016
The new line is intended to form the first stage of the TAT Railway corridor linking Turkmenistan, Afghanistan and Tajikistan. Construction had been launched by the presidents of the three countries with a ceremony on 5 June 2013.
Announcing the completion of the first section of the route, Turkmenistan’s Ministry of Foreign Afairs said the new railway “is intended to become an important link in the international transport, to encourage trade relations between the countries of the region and give a strong impetus to the restoration of the Afghan economy”, and would “contribute to the solution of social issues, ensuring employment of the population.”
The importance and potential of the new railway, which will connect Turkmenistan and Afghanistan with the economic ties, is proved by the intense freight traffic flow passing through the Ymamnazar customs post. Turkmenistan exports oil products, liquefied gas, carbamide, cement, grain, licorice, carbon, cotton seed oil, Saradja wool, etc. Moreover, large transit consignments of humanitarian and other cargoes pass through the Ymamnazar customs post. Citrus and fruits transiting through Afghanistan are registered as import. A number of food products are transported to the neighbouring countries of the region and Europe through territory of Turkmenistan.
Source: Turkmen construction specialists mounted the final joints of the first stage of the Asian railway in Akina, Afghanistan, Turkmenistan: The Golden Age, 30 November 2016.
— Khaama Press (KP) (@khaama) October 19, 2016
Aqeena city will be soon connected to Turkmenistan railway & will facilitate delivery of Afghan goods to Europe in 5-7 days, P. Ghani says
— VOA DARI (@VOADariAfghan) July 11, 2016
- Also written Akina, Aqeena etc ↩
- Or Atamyrat, and formerly Kerki ↩
- Countless spellings including Ymamnazar, Ymam Nazar, Ymymnazar etc, sometimes inconsistently within the same official text ↩
- شروع كار ريل گذاري خط آهن بندر آقينه با حضور وزير فوايد عامه، نماينده… , Ministry of Public Works, 1 November 2016 ↩
- The construction of the first phase of an international railway corridor Turkmenistan – Afghanistan completed, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Turkmenistan, 2016 ↩
- Turkmen construction specialists mounted the final joints of the first stage of the Asian railway in Akina, Afghanistan, Turkmenistan: The Golden Age, 30 November 2016 ↩
- Asian International Railway Corridor, Regional Economic Cooperation Conference for Afghanistan, 1 November 2016 ↩
- Altcom previously built a road bridge over the Amu Darya. ↩
- Various similar spellings ↩