By Abdul Kerimkhanov
A meeting of the railway administrations' heads of Uzbekistan, Russia, Kazakhstan, Afghanistan and Pakistan was held in Tashkent on December 3-4, Uzbek media reports.
The agenda included a topical issue, the importance and significance of which, without exaggeration, can be called historical - the implementation of the project to build the Mazar-i-Sharif-Kabul-Peshawar railway line. This road can become part of the Eurasian concept of interconnectivity, which is currently supported by the EU.
Following the meeting, a Protocol was signed on the establishment of a joint working group and a financial consortium between the railway administrations of Uzbekistan, Russia, Kazakhstan, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
The importance of the new railway line is caused by the need to address the issue of finding alternative land routes. By these routes, cargo can be delivered to Europe and in the opposite direction.
The solution to the lack of a railway linking India and Pakistan with other countries could be the construction of the Mazar-i-Sharif-Khulm-Puli-Khumri-Doshi-Surabai-Jalalabad-Torkham railway line (Pakistan) through the Afghan capital Kabul. It will become a transport corridor connecting EU, Russia, Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India and the states of Southeast Asia.
Another favorable factor for the implementation of the project is the construction of high-voltage power lines Surkhan - Puli-Khumri - Doshi - Surabai - Djelalalabad - Peshawar (Pakistan) along the proposed railway. It means, there is the possibility of building an electrified railway with the positive sides arising from this.
In addition, Uzbekistan is now actively exploring the possibilities of implementing another project - the creation of the Mazar-i-Sharif-Herat railway corridor. The implementation of this project will provide 30,000 Afghans with jobs and will allow Kabul to annually make a profit of $400-500 million from transit.
According to preliminary data, the implementation of this project will make it possible to increase the trade turnover of Afghanistan by about 50 percent. Moreover, it provides an opportunity to provide access to promising markets in almost all directions for Afghanistan and the countries of Central and South Asia.
As for the loading of this road, in the first years it could be about 5 million tons, and later this figure could increase to 15 million tons. The length of the new line will be about 2,000 kilometers.
The total cost of the project, which will allow the creation of a railway analogue of the Trans-Afghan road corridor from Europe with access to India, China, Iran and Pakistan, is about $ 3 billion.
Abdul Kerimkhanov is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow him on Twitter: @AbdulKerim94
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