Uzbekistan is ready to build new railway line in Afghanistan, the deputy chairman of the Board of JSC Uzbekistan Railways Davron Dekhkanov said at a meeting of the international press club on Wednesday.
He said that Uzbekistan railway authorities are familiar with Afghanistan and have extensive experience in building high-altitude railways. As you know we launched a 100 km Khairaton-Mazar-i-Sharif rail link in 2010, he said. This link is part of the Trans-Afghan transport corridor. About half of Afghanistan's imports are transported via this railroad. As an extension of this project, it is planned to start the construction of Mazari-Sharif-Shibergan-Maymana-Herat section, which will create a new transport corridor in the north-west of Afghanistan.
This project is of strategic importance for Uzbekistan because it will give us access to the sea via Afghanistan to the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas. We have already held a number of talks with Afghan authorities and reached certain agreements, Dehkanov said.
At present, the Afghan side is working on the sources of the project financing, we have informed the Afghan government in writing that we are ready to start design and construction works. The project is in line the two countries’ intention to bring the bilateral trade to $ 1 billion this year through the development of transport infrastructure, he added
Speaking of ties with Tajik rail authorities, he said that Uzbekistan rail authorities have established “warm and trustful relations” with Tajik counterparts, based on which we can settle all disputes related to the carriage of goods by rail amicably. Answering the question whether Uzbekistan and Tajikistan consider the possibility of opening a railway route bypassing Turkmenistan, as well as resuming Amuzang-Galab section which was suspended in 2011, Davron Dekhkanov said that Uzbekistan does not see the need to build a new railway section between the two countries.
All goods to Tajikistan are being transported via Kudukli border crossing in Surkhandarya province, without delays, on time, so there is no need to build new section, he said.
Davron Dekhkanov recalled that several interstate rail border crossings operate in the Uzbek-Tajik border - in Ferghana, Tashkent and Surkhandarya provinces. Therefore the construction of a new section will not bring any additional economic benefit, he said.
Commenting on the China-Kyrgyzstan-Uzbekistan railway project, Davron Dekhkanov said that this will give an opportunity to create a new transport corridor, which will allow transportation of goods from China via Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan to Eastern Europe through the Transcaucasian corridor. And it will be the shortest route for transporting goods to Europe. The Chinese Government, just as the Government of Uzbekistan, is making efforts to launch this project, he said.
There are a number of technical issues that are being discussed between the Chinese and Kyrgyz railway authorities. In particular, the difference in track: 1520 mm - Uzbek railways and 1,435 mm - the Chinese railway standard.
How will the cargo be transshipped, at which station and where the terminal will be located - these are the issues that need to be resolved. We hope that this project will be implemented within the framework of the One Belt, One Road Initiative, Davron Dekhkanov said.