Afghanistan, Iran open first rail network
Topics: AFGHANISTAN IRAN
The train route so far links the Iranian city of Khaf with the Afghan town of Rozanak about 150 kilometres away, but is scheduled to be expanded to reach Herat, Afghanistan’s third largest city.
The $75 million project began in 2007, with Iran funding construction on both sides of the border as part of its development assistance to Afghanistan.
Crowds of Afghans gathered at Rozanak station for the arrival of the first blue-painted train.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, addressing the inauguration ceremony via video link, welcomed the move as an ‘important step for economic revival and development in both the countries’.
He called the railroad ‘a precious gift from Iran’ that would help restore the Silk Road, an ancient trade route that spread prosperity across Asia. The inauguration saw cargo trains depart from opposite ends of the line.
The project was a gateway to Europe for Afghanistan, said Iranian president Hassan Rouhani. ‘I see the prosperity of Iran and Afghanistan in this railway,’ he said, also speaking via video link from Tehran.
‘The development, security and stability of Afghanistan (contributes to) development, security and stability in Iran and the entire region.’ ■