Pakistani-Iranian Rail Link, First-Ever to Europe and Asia
April 17, 2007 (LPAC)--Pakistan will be finally linked to the Iranian national rail system next year, Iranian Minister of Roads and Transportation Mohammad Rahmati said in Tehran April 14. Iran has been building the final link in their rail system -- Kerman to Zahedan in southeastern Iran -- and when this is completed, for the first time in history the Indian Subcontinent will be linked to Asia and Europe by rail, Iran's Mehr News reports.
The Iranian city of Zahedan is already linked to the Pakistani system, at the border city of Mirjaveh, and this link runs via the Pakistani city of Quetta and from there, there are connections to the rail system of India. The Iran connection will be finished some time after March 21, 2008, when the new year begins in Iran.
This announcement was made at the Iran-Pakistan Joint Conference on Transportation, which met in Tehran, attended by Pakistani Federal Minister for Communications Muhammad Shamim Siddiqui, leading a high-level delegation. Siddiqui said that many of those who enter Iran from Quetta, are pilgrims wanting to visit the holy city of Mashhad, in northeastern Iran. Siddiqui called for building of a railway direct to Mashhad.
Tehran is already connected to Turkey by rail, via Tabriz-Lake Van-Ankara, and thus to the rail systems of Europe. In 1996, the Mashhad-Ashkabad, Turkmenstan rail link was opened, for the first time connecting Iran and Southwest Asia directly to the nations of Central Asia. Before then, all the rail links of the Central Asian nations -- then part of the Soviet Union -- were only to Russia.
Rahmati then announced that "Iran is willing to access the transit road linking Pakistan to China [the famous Karakoram Highway]. We hope that an agreement will soon be finalized in this regard." Recently, there has been discussion of building a rail line along the route of the Karakoram Highway, which would be an incredible feat of engineering. The Karakoram Highway crosses the Khunjerab Pass, 4,693 meters high, and is the highest paved international connection in the world.
Rahmati also said that Iran is making a priority of building a highway to connect the city of Chadbahar, on the Gulf of Oman, with the new Pakistani port city of Gwadar.