Uzbekistan and Afghanistan resumed rail transportation via Hairatan port on Friday after freight trains along the line were suspended ten days ago.
The Taliban-run railway authority confirmed that Friday’s first freight train crossed the border in 50 train wagons.
Uzbekistan Railway also confirmed the decision to restore services. According to a statement issued by the authority, a meeting was held this week with an Afghan delegation, led by the head of the Afghan railways’ department, Baiturrahman Sharofat.
Uzbekistan Railway said a new contract was signed between Afghan Railway Administration and Uzbekistan’s Sogdiana Trans on further operations of the Hairatan to Mazar-e-Sharif line.
Meanwhile, Abdul Sami Durani, a spokesman for the Afghanistan Railway Authority, said freight trains resumed operations on Friday and that shipments of Afghan traders would return to “normal”.
Uzbekistan Railways on February 1, suspended transportation to Afghanistan stating the Taliban had failed to fulfill the technical obligations as per an agreement signed in late December. Since then, the Taliban urged Afghan traders to import goods via the Aqina port.
Hairatan – Mazar-e-Sharif rail line is one of the main transit routes for goods, including food and liquefied gas, to Afghanistan.
Uzbekistan Railways built the 75-kilometer Hairatan – Mazar-e-Sharif railway line worth $129 million in 2010. Sogdiana Trans was established a year later to operate and service this line.
However, on December 6 last year, just two weeks before negotiations with Uzbekistan Railways, Taliban officials signed a contract with a Kazakhstani company, Mansour Fatih, to manage the Hairatan-Mazar-e-Sharif railway line.
At the time, Tashkent media reported that the Kazak company would manage technical issues for the line.
Afghanistan has trade relations with its neighboring Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, and Iran through railways. The Khaf-Herat railway, which connects Afghanistan to Iran, was damaged after the collapse of the republican system, and most of its equipment was stolen, and currently work on its reconstruction is underway.