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Aid train reaches Afghanistan

01 Jan 2002

UZBEKISTAN Railways diesel locomotives began operating into Afghanistan on December 9, following the reopening of the Friendship Bridge across the Amudarya river near Termez. Built by the Soviet Union during the 1980s, the line into Afghanistan has been out of use for the past five years.

The victory of Northern Alliance backed forces over the Taliban regime in November cleared the way for the mothballed link to reopen, but the resumption of services was delayed by negotiations between western aid agencies and the Uzbekistan government. The bridge has been reopened to permit the operation of trains carrying food for towns in northern and central Afghanistan.

With the opening up of a rail and road corridor into Mazar-e-Sharif, United Nations relief agencies launched an eight-day programme to ship as much food into Afghanistan as possible, ahead of the onset of winter. The first train across the bridge carried 1000 tonnes of grain and flour in 15 bogie vans. A banner on the locomotive read From the Uzbek people to the Afghan people.