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KABUL (TCA) — Officials from the Afghanistan National Railway Authority (ANRA) on February 14 said that the technical and economic survey for the establishment of the multinational railway project is about 50 percent complete. Some 880 kilometers of railway line will be built in Afghanistan and will connect Afghanistan’s northern regions to the west. Five nations including Afghanistan, Iran, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and China take part in the project, TOLOnews reports.

Meanwhile, Sediq Qasimi Zakeri, the economic advisor for the Iranian embassy in Kabul, said his country strongly supports the establishment of the project between the five countries which will also cover Iran’s Chabahar and Bandar-e-Abbas ports.

“We fully support this project, work has already been started on it, we hope that all countries in the region come forward for this project,” said Zakeri.

Based on the agreement signed between the five countries in this respect, every member country has to establish a total of 2,100 kilometers of railway line within the next five years.

“This project plays a vital role for regional connectivity, we are trying to wrap up the preliminary work,” said Bari Sediq, director general of ANRA.

Economic experts have heralded the project as a milestone to further boost economic cooperation in the region.

A preliminary agreement for developing the proposed China–Kyrgyzstan–Tajikistan–Afghanistan–Iran railway line was signed in the Tajik capital Dushanbe in December 2014.

The rail corridor aims to increase regional commerce and spur job creation along with larger trade volumes. This project connects China on one end and Iran on the other over a total distance of 2,100 kilometers, traversing Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Afghanistan. Over one thousand kilometers of the rail corridor will stretch through the Afghan provinces of Herat, Badghis, Faryab, Jawozjan, Balkh and Kunduz.

The Afghan section of the rail line will be partially funded by the ADB and improve Afghanistan’s access to the Iranian ports of Chabahar and Bandar Abbas.

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