November 28, Aqina, Afghanistan - A rail line running 90 km from Atamyrat in Turkmenistan to the Ymamnazar border crossing point and 3.5 km onwards to Afghanistan’s border facilities at Aqina was officially opened by Afghanistan’s President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani and Turkmenistan’s President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov and with a ceremony on November 28.
This railroad linking Turkmenistan and Afghanistan and Tajikistan, is part of a route named Trilateral Railway, was officially renamed as the Asian International Railway Corridor.
After a symbolic golden rail clamp was fixed into a place, a maiden consignment of 46 carriages crossed from Turkmenistan into Afghanistan.
The segment of newly inaugurated railroad stretches 90 kilometers from Atmyrat (formerly Kerki) in Turkmenistan to the Ymamnazar border crossing and ends in the Afghan settlement of Aqina. Two stations — Gulistan and Ymamnazar — have also been built from scratch along the route. The railway continues with construction of 35 km from Aqina to Andkhoy and 108 km to Sheberghan. The total 635 km of the rail line should be built from Aqina all the way to Sher Khan Bandar of Tajikistan.
Initial discussions for the railway project began in 2008, and a framework agreement was signed when Afghanistan’s then former President Hamid Karzai visited Ashgabat in May 2011. The trilateral rail line was also discussed at the 5th Regional Economic Cooperation Conference in Dushanbe in March 2012 and presented as a potential regional project. The first technical discussions launched in 2013. Construction was launched by the presidents of Turkmenistan, Afghanistan and Tajikistan with an elaborate ceremony in Atamyrat on June 5 2013. The second technical meeting was held in 2014 to page more paperworks for construction.
In the longer term this could link up with other projects to provide a route between China and Iran.