The north-south railway project linking Kazakhstan and Iran via Turkmenistan has received a major boost with the signing of two funding agreements.
The Asian Development Bank has pledged $225m to the Turkmenistan Government towards the development of the 200km Kazakh border-Bereket section.
In January, the Islamic Development Bank also signed a loan agreement for the 256km between Bereket and Etrek, brining its total contribution to $371m.
It is hoped that the rail link, running parallel to the Caspian Sea, will strengthen regional trade by providing a direct route connecting Europe and the Persian Gulf ports.
The total cost of the project, which started in 2007, stands at $1.4bn.