12/09/14

Permalink New rail line to turn Kazakhstan into transit hub between China, Middle East

A new railway connecting Central Asia with the Persian Gulf through Iran was officially opened on December 3. With Kazakhstan completing its east-west rail line that links the country's centre to the west earlier this year, the new international railway line now offers direct passage for Chinese goods to Iran and on to the Gulf, as well as Europe via Turkey. Kazakh President Nursutlan Nazarbayev, Turkmen leader Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani opened the new Ozen-Gyzylkaya-Bereket-Etrek-Gorgan railway line on the Turkmen-Iranian border on December 3. The line is part of the international North-South corridor. The length of the Kazakh section of the railway is 146 kilometres, Turkmen 700km and Iranian 82km. The parties signed the agreement on the construction of the railway link in 2007 and construction started in 2009. The project means that Kazakhstan now has a direct line to Turkmenistan and Iran, bypassing Uzbekistan and cutting the route by hundreds of kilometres. Together with the new east-west railway line from Beyneu to Zhezkazgan opened by President Nazarbayev in August, the lines will drastically cut the transit time for Chinese goods to Europe via Russia and the Middle East.

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