The presidents of Iran, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan inaugurated a new Railway linking the three nations on Wendnesday December 3.
The official opening of the line took place in the Turkmen frontier village of Ak-Yayla, where Iranian President Hassan Rohani joined Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev and Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov.
The 935-kilometer Ozen-Bereket-Gorgan line which runs from western Kazakhstan to the northern Iranian city of Gorgan, is now the shortest railway connecting the three states and will significantly speed the movement of cargo between a long-isolated region and markets in the Middle East and Asia.
The rail route inaugurated Wednesday will initially have a capacity to carry up to 5 million tons of cargo annually, but that figure is projected to increase to 12 million tons. It is also planned that the line could eventually be opened to passengers.
In a speech at the cross-border station, Iranian President Rouhani said the opening of the route represented a historic breakthrough for the region.
“Today, I want to express my unbounded joy,” he said.
Iran and the former Soviet republics of Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan all have Caspian Sea shorelines — a source of tension for years among the five littoral states, which also include Azerbaijan and Russia.
Kazakhstan does not have a land border with Iran, and there is little passenger travel between Iran and tightly controlled Turkmenistan.