190501 train tracks
Minis­ter for Railways Sheikh Rashid Ahmed has annou­nced plans to link Pakistan with Afghanistan through railway by laying a track from Chaman to Spin Boldak. Image Credit: Pixabay

Islamabad: Pakistan Railways has announced plans to construct a rail link with neighbouring Afghanistan to improve trade and facilitate passengers.

The railway track will connect Pakistan’s Chaman district of Balochistan with the Spin Boldak town of Kandahar in Afghanistan, Minister for Railways Sheikh Rashid Ahmed announced at a press conference in Quetta.

In the first phase, at least 11km-long railway track will be laid from Chaman to Spin Boldak, he said. After its completion, the railway track could be extended to Kandahar city if the Afghan government expressed its willingness, Rashid added.

The proposed rail project has been pending for the past many years.

Railroad to facilitate trade

Linking Chaman with Spin Boldak through the proposed railroad would help boost trade between the two neighbours, the minister said.

Islamabad recently restored trade operations with Afghanistan at five border routes - Chaman, Torkham, Angor Adda, Ghulam Khan and Kharlachi. Pakistan’s Commerce and Investment Adviser Abdul Razak Dawood last month visited Kabul and held extensive discussions with Afghan trade officials to resolves issues related to trade and transportation.

He expressed hoped that Afghanistan-Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement (APTTA) and Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA) will be finalised between the two countries by the end of January 2021.

Earlier this year, Pakistani also launched the first train service to exclusively transport Afghan transit cargo from Pakistan’s southern port city of Karachi to Afghanistan border. In 2019, Pakistan government approved a supplementary grant of Rs500 million for the construction for an additional carriageway on the Torkham-Jalalabad road under the Prime Minister’s Reconstruction of Afghanistan Program.