German military ponders plans to build Afghan railway route

The German military is contemplating plans to construct a 67-kilometer railway line in northern Afghanistan aimed at transporting military supplies from neighboring Uzbekistan, Der Spiegel news magazine said in a report to hit the newsstands Sunday.

The railway route would link Germany's main logistics headquarters in the Afghan city of Mazar-i Sharif with the town Hairatan at the Uzbek border where a bridge was built by the former Soviet Union in 1982 crossing the Amu Darya border river.

This would provide a direct connection to the Uzbekistan rail network and to the Uzbek city of Termez, where the German air force has its primary logistics base for incoming military supplies from Germany.

The German military is banking on financial support for the project from the German Development Aid Ministry and international organizations as the railway line would not only ensure the flow of supplies for Afghanistan-based NATO troops but would also benefit the local Afghan economy.

There have been no actual cost estimates made yet for the planned railway route whose idea goes back to the Soviet era, when military engineers proposed a 200-kilometer railway track from Hairatan via Mazar-i Sharif to Pul-e-Khumri, however it was never constructed.

[Source: Islamic Republic News Agency IRNA, Berlín, 30Aug08]

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