• Operators ran the first train down Afghanistan's first major railroad, clearing the way for a long-awaited service from the northern border that should speed up the US military's crucial supply flow and become a hub for future trade.

  • A cargoless train chugged into a newly built station in the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif

  • The new rail line is the first stage of an ambitious plan to link landlocked Afghanistan to its neighbors' extensive railways for the first time

  • Afghanistan has never had a functional rail network, though many projects have been begun and later abandoned, victims of maneuvers of the 19th century Great Game rivalry between Russia and Britain, and then political bickering in the early 20th century. Soviet occupiers abandoned a few rail projects in the 1980s, and later years of bitter civil war made such construction impossible