Presidents of Turkmenistan and Afghanistan inaugurate first stage of Asian railway

The first stage of the Asian international railway corridor has been put into operation. A festive ceremony marking the launch of the new railway Atamyrat Imamnazar (Turkmenistan) - Akina (Afghanistan) took place at the border station of Imamnazar. President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov and President of Afghanistan Mohammad Ashraf Ghani attended the ceremony.

Speaking at the ceremony, the Turkmen leader said that the start of construction of the new railway was given on June 5, 2013 with participation of the Presidents of the Republic of Tajikistan and the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.

According to the Turkmen leader, the railway reviving the Great Silk Road with the view to increasing the transport and transit capacity of Turkmenistan will be an important international corridor to Europe, Asia-Pacific and South Asia.

It will contribute to the strengthening of fruitful economic and trade cooperation with the countries of the region, serving the interests of millions of people, universal peace and prosperity, the head of state said.

Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov also stressed that the new route opens great opportunities for Afghanistan, Tajikistan, China, India, Pakistan and countries in the Asia-Pacific region, creating favorable conditions for increasing freight flow to Iran, Kazakhstan, the Russian Federation, Azerbaijan and European countries.

In turn, President of Afghanistan Mohammad Ashraf Ghani noted the importance of launching the first stage of the Asian international railway transport corridor for Turkmenistan, Afghanistan and other countries in the region.

People of Afghanistan highly appreciate a balanced foreign policy of the fraternal country that produces tangible results. They treat with respect and pride the neutral status of Turkmenistan. Having a good neighbor is great happiness, and Turkmenistan is our good neighbor and reliable friend, the President of Afghanistan said.

The Afghan leader expressed gratitude to the railway workers of Turkmenistan, stressing that their selfless work deserves the greatest praise. We have achieved our goal and we intend to move forward. Now, our main task is to create a communication network between the Afghan provinces. Similar railways will come to Turgundi and Bathyz in future, the Afghan President said.

As part of the railway launching ceremony, a terminal for receiving, storing and shipping of oil products was inaugurated via a TV spacebridge that linked the border station and the eponymous Imamnazar customs station. The new terminal can receive, store and ship 540,000 tons of oil products per year.

Then, the leaders of Turkmenistan and Afghanistan proceeded to the venue of ceremonial fixing of the golden link of the railway at the intersection of the Turkmen-Afghan border. They bolted the butts of rails to the applause of the ceremony participants.

Following the official launching ceremony, the first freight train proceeded to Afghanistan. It consisted of 46 railcars carrying the products of Turkmen manufacturers, such as food and construction materials, as Turkmenistan's donation to the Afghan people.

After conclusion of the launching ceremony at Imamnazar station, the Presidents of Turkmenistan and Afghanistan left for the Afghan railway station of Akina, where they also attended the launch of the new railway.

The new railway from the Turkmen city of Atamyrat to the Afghan border station of Akina and related infrastructure were built by subdivisions of the Ministry of Railway Transport of Turkmenistan. The related infrastructure of the 88-km long railway includes two large bridges, 256 meter and 363 meter each, Gulistan and Ymamnazar train stations, as well as a number of technical and social facilities.