Railway Linking Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan to Persian Gulf Inaugurated

The presidents of Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan and Iran attended the inauguration of a railway that will connect the three countries and serve as an additional conduit to the Persian Gulf. The ceremony took place in the Turkmen frontier village of Ak-Yayla, and marked the beginning of operations of the nearly 930 kilometer (578 mile) route. The completion of the regional railway is significant because it will allow China and Central Asian countries much quicker access to prominent Persian Gulf shipping lanes, and which ultimately lead to Asian and Middle Eastern markets. Freight currently originating in China takes more than three weeks to arrive in Iran, though the new railway network will shorten the transport times to just under two weeks.

The inauguration of the railway concludes more than seven years of negotiations, construction and finishing touches made to the regional transport network. The three countries have outlined plans by which they hope to augment interregional trade and economic cooperation. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani labeled the deal “just a beginning,” pointing to strong relations between Iran and Turkmenistan in the energy and packaged goods sectors, and with Kazakhstan in the energy sector, as evidence.

The new line, which forms part of the much-lauded North-South corridor, will link up to Iran’s national rail network and transport goods to the Persian Gulf.

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