Junction for Planet Opens on Turkmen-Iranian Border

Bruce Pannier for OMRI

05/13/96 The greatly publicized rail link between Turkmenistan and Iran was officially opened on 13 May, according to Western and Russian sources. The 300 km line, agreed to in 1991, will for the first time connect Iran to the Central Asian rail network, and is expected to cut travel time between Europe and southeast Asia by up to 10 days. Iranian President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and his Turkmen counterpart, Saparmurad Niyazov, hosted an opening ceremony for the line attended by 12 heads of state and 700 other officials and journalists. The $216 million Meshhed-Sarakhs-Tedzhen railway will be used by some 500,000 passengers and 2 million metric tons of goods in its first year of operation, and those figures are expected to rise in the near future, Reuters reported. Iran train

Reuter Original Report

SARAKHS, Turkmenistan -- Iran and Turkmenistan opened a rail link Monday which leaders said would unite Europe and Asia and revive the Silk Road trade route between the two continents.

Heads of state from 12 countries attended a colorful ceremony in northern Iran before crossing the border in a special train, dubbed "Pride," to the gas-rich desert republic of Turkmenistan.

The new railroad, from the northern Iranian city of Mashhad to the Turkmen town of Tedzhen, links Iran's Gulf ports to the former Soviet hinterland and a network which stretches to China and the Pacific coast.

Iran, subject to a U.S. economic embargo, is hailing the railroad as the first concrete achievement in a strategy to build its role as a regional economic power.

The Silk Road came into use 2,000 years ago. It was the main link between China and Europe for several centuries until sea travel became practical.

Back to News