NATO opens new communication lines to Afghanistan
Following the conclusion of arrangements for the transit of ISAF non-lethal cargo by rail with the Russian Federation, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Belarus and Kazakhstan, the first trial shipment of the NATO train departed Riga, Latvia, on 14 May and arrived in Afghanistan on 9 June 2010.
Despite being delayed for several days en route, the trial has been heralded as a success in opening up new lines of communication to Afghanistan. Plans are already underway for follow-on shipments in the months ahead, subject to the demands of ISAF Troop Contributing Nations.
The train transited through Russia, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan before entering Afghanistan at the border-crossing point at Hairaton. The shipment consisted of 27 twenty-foot ISO containers of construction materials, food supplies and a loading ramp from Belgium.
Several agencies were involved in arranging the shipment including the Allied Movement Coordination Centre at Allied Command Operations in Mons, Belgium; the Movement Coordination Centre Europe at Eindhoven, the Netherlands; the Danish Handling Agent, DSV, in Latvia; and the various military and rail authorities of the nations involved. Latvia acted as the Lead Nation in coordinating the various elements.
Use of the rail route costs approximately 10 per cent of the equivalent for movement by air and is more direct than using the southern surface transport route through Pakistan.