First rail link for Afghanistan

20 March 2008

Pakistan will start construction of the first major functioning railway line in Afghanistan, officials from the countries said in an on-line news report.

It was reported by Deutsche Presse-Agentur that Pakistani Railway Minister Sheikh Rashid said an initial 10.5 km stretch of track will be laid from the Pakistani border town of Chaman to Spin Boldak in Afghanistan, at a cost of PKR 700 million (US$ 11.5 million).

The work will take about a year and a second phase could mean an extension of the line to the southern Afghan city of Kandahar for eventual connection via the western city of Herat to Khushka in Turkmenistan, the report said.

While Britain and Russia built railway lines in Afghanistan in the 19th century and the Soviets during the occupation in the 1980s, there is no working railway service in the country today apart from a few km across a bridge from Uzbekistan.

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