The arrival of first freight train from China was welcomed into the northern rail port at Hairatan following a 3000 km transit taking 14 days.
With the locomotive carrying a headboard proclaiming Central Asia Train: Nantong – Afghan – Hairatan, the 45-wagon train had been dispatched from Nantong in eastern China’s Jiangsu province on August 25, carrying 84 containers.
The welcoming ceremony was attended by the former governor of Balkh province, Mohammad Ishaq Rahguzar, and the Chinese ambassador to Afghanistan, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Railway Authority team in Hairatan Trade Zone of Mazar-e-Sharif province.
The inauguration of a cargo train linking China through Afghanistan marks the revival of the ancient Silk Road as the constantly observed by the Afghan Government and discussed at the last year’s Sixth Regional Economic Cooperation Conference on Afghanistan (RECCA).
As part of China’s One Belt, One Road initiative to improve Asian transport connectivity two trains are scheduled to run each month on the route via the Alataw Pass, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan.
This service would open up new opportunities for Afghanistan’s commerce and economic activities at this very critical time of Asian economic boom.
There are hopes that traffic levels will increase sufficiently to support the operation of a weekly train by the end of this year. The westbound services are expected to carry Chinese-made mechanical equipment, IT products and clothes to the land-locked country, returning with Afghan products such as marble, saffron, dried fruit and carpets. The potential for more exchange of products is high and both governments are working to increase the level of trade through making of these initiatives.