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A railway link between Ashghabat in Turkmenistan to Tehran is part of a plan to build a Silk Road high speed railway line from China through central Asia proposed by China Railway Corporation’s chief engineer He Huawu last week, The China Daily reported today.
The scheme is part of the China Civil Engineering Society’s One Belt, One Road Initiative, a long-term programme to improve land transport links between China, the Middle East and Europe.
The proposed route of the railway line is China’s Urumqi and Yining to Almaty in Kazakhstan, then to Bishkek in Kyrgyzstan, Tashkent and Samarkand in Uzbekistan, Ashgabat in Turkmenistan and finally blending into Iran’s railway network.
The northeast-southwest line would be complementary to the existing railway network in central Asian nations, which mostly run southeast to northwest toward Moscow. It is designed to provide a seamless rail link to replace the existing disjointed system and the fact that China’s standard-gauge system is incompatible with the wide-guage tracks in Central Asian states.
“The Khorgos station bordering Kazakhstan last year handled less than 17 million metric tons of cargo running at full capacity, but beyond the station, the east-west annual cargo transportation capacity is 100 million tons,” He told a forum on 19 November. “The bottleneck undermined the idea of a large-capacity corridor.increased container traffic and sea container traffic moved by land instead could justify the cost of building the line.”