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Uzbekistan Wants To Close Rail Link To Tajikistan

Say goodbye to Termez!
Say goodbye to Termez!
DUSHANBE -- The Uzbek state railroad company has sent a letter to Tajik authorities notifying them that it wants to close a 44-kilometer stretch of railroad connecting the two countries, RFE/RL's Tajik Service reports.

There are three separate rail links between the two countries.

Uzbekistan wants to close the southernmost, which runs from the Uzbek city of Termez to Tajikistan's Khatlon Province. Officials say the route is not economically viable and their country can no longer afford to maintain it.

Tajik authorities agreed that the route is not profitable, but they object to its closure.

"We prefer to keep it open and will probably assume responsibility for its maintenance," said Andrei Tropin, the deputy director of Tajikistan's state railroad.

Tropin said he is does not understand why Uzbekistan wants to close the railway link at the same time that it blames the holdup of hundreds of freight cars bound for Tajikistan on the limited capacity of the railroad network.

Tajik officials say the so-called railroad war between the two countries broke out because of Uzbekistan's opposition to Tajik plans to build the Roghun hydropower plant.

Tashkent fears that the plant will drastically reduce the amount of water into Uzbekistan and thus enable Dushanbe to exert leverage on the Uzbek government.