Tajikistan hints at delay on rail link to Turkmenistan

By bne IntelliNews July 23, 2013

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Tajikstan said on July 22 that its section of a 400-kilometre railway connecting it to Turkmenistan via Afghanistan is still in the planning stage. The announcement suggests the country could struggle to keep the important link between the west and east of the Central Asia region on schedule.

Tajik Railways chief Amonullo Hukumov told journalists in Dushanbe that the issues related to financing the construction of the country's 50km section will be solved after completion of a feasibility study. Construction on the project is scheduled to be complete by the end of next year, reports Asia Plus.

With China, Iran and Kyrgyzstan expected to add stretches to the line, it could create a route running from the Persian Gulf to the Yellow Sea. Not only does that suggest it would offer welcome transit fees and associated direct benefits to the poorest country in Central Asia, but also provide opportunities for trade and investment both to and from the region.

A memorandum of understanding (MoU) for construction of the link was signed during a trilateral meeting of the presidents of Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Afghanistan n the Turkmen capital Ashgabat on March 20. The line would connect the Afghan town of Akina-Andkhoy to Atamurat-Ymamnazar in Turkmenistan and Panj in Tajikistan. Turkmen workers are set to build the Afghan section of the railway.

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