Afghanistan Opens First Major Train Service

Posted December 21st, 2011 at 11:15 am (UTC-5)
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Afghan operators ran the first train down Afghanistan's first major railroad Wednesday, paving the way for expanding trade in and out of the landlocked country.

Deputy Public Works Minister Noor Gul Mangal said the cargoless train arrived in the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif after a 75-kilometer trial run from the border with Uzbekistan.

The Asian Development Bank funded the $165 million project. According to the group, the project will release a bottleneck that is now holding up the flow of goods in the mountainous country.

The new mode of transportation also should speed up supplies coming for coalition troops battling the Taliban in Afghanistan.

Most NATO supplies arriving to Afghanistan over land have come via two major supply routes in Pakistan. But since the controversy surrounding the November 26 NATO airstrikes against Pakistani military posts in the remote border area with Afghanistan, Islamabad has shut off the routes to NATO supply convoys.

Pakistan has closed off the routes to NATO supplies in the past to protest the actions of the coalition in Afghanistan spilling over to Pakistan.