AfRA signs contracts for Herat and Balkh administrative buildings

Contracts for the construction of administrative buildings for the Herat and Balkh railway directorates were signed on 3 February 2018 by Afghanistan Railway Authority Director General & CEO Mohammad Yamma Shams and Mohsen Amin, Deputy Manager of State Corps.1

Announcing the contracts on 5 February 2018, AfRA said construction of the administrative building for the Herat railway directorate would cost AFN 45,927,337.38 (about €533 0002), while construction of the Balkh building would cost AFN 43,451,155.21 (about €504 0003). Work is scheduled to start this month and be completed within 10 months.

State Corps is a construction company which began by working on projects for the United State Army Corps of Engineers, and the expanded into the energy sector where it has woprked on high voltage transmission lines and other power distribution projects.4

Herat province includes the Turkmenistan – Towraghondi railway and the new line which is being built from Khaf in Iran. Balkh province is home to the railway from Uzbekistan to Hairatan and Mazar-i-Sharif.

References

Towraghondi railway photos

Mirwais Nab, Ambassador of Afghanistan to Turkmenistan, tweets two photos of railway modernisation works at Towraghondi on the Afghanistan-Turkmenistan border.

(As an aside, a priority for the project should be an agreement to settle on one romanised spelling of the place’s name!)

Turkmenistan modernises Towraghondi rail line

The train comprosed the loco and 42 vehicles, including a coach carrying construction staff, track machines, cranes and other equipment and materials on flat wagons

Turkmenistan’s President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov visted Serhetabat in late November to launch the “construction of new railway” from the Turkmen border to Towraghondi in Afghanistan, reported Turkmenistan’s official news agency on 29 November 2017.1

A “ceremony of launching Serhetabat – Turgundy railway” is scheduled for the second half of February 2018, with Afghanistan’s President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani planning to attend.2

There already is a railway from Turkmenistan to Towraghondi, so this project might be an upgrade rather than a new line.

The President arrived by helicopter on the morning of the construction launch event, and made a speech highlighting the importance of developing transport links.

Important role is given to the involvement of entire potential of the railway sphere in the development of all branches of national economy and multimodal system of Turkmenistan. Therefore, the greatest attention is paid to the expansion and modernization of its infrastructure.

As an example, the Head of the State gave the railway Kazakhstan – Turkmenistan – Iran, Kerky (formerly Atamyrat) – Ymamnazar – Akina. These and other routes as well those that were planned to be built open new opportunities for fruitful relations between the countries of the region and for consolidation of their economic power.

We render comprehensive support and assistance to fraternal Afghan people and will continue putting all efforts that enhance the revival of the neighbouring state, the Head of the State said, having highlighted that recently, Turkmenistan hosted the VII Regional Economic Cooperation Conference of Afghanistan where important agreements of regional importance were reached.

Having highlighted the decision on increase of the volumes of energy supplied from Turkmenistan to the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, the Head of the State directed Turkmen railway constructors, who commenced the construction of the roads to Turgundy by the request of Afghanistan.

Source: President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov launches the construction of railway Serhetabat – Turgundy, State News Agency of Turkmenistan – Turkmenistan Today, 29 November 2017

The President then watched a train leave Serhetabat for Towraghondi. The locomotive reportedly hauled 42 vehicles, including a coach carrying railway construction staff, track machines, cranes and other equipment and materials on flat wagons “loaded with all necessary for the construction of new interstate railway line.”

Turkmen staff are to build the railway and develop infrastructure to increase throughput at Towraghondi, enabling Afghanistan to import and export goods more efficiently and providing better links with transport corridors running east-west and north-south in Central Asia.

After watching the train depart, the President held a meeting with railway personnel who would work on the project. The railwaymen “expressed sincere gratitude to the head of state for tireless work for the happiness of the Turkmen people, for the policy of progressive reforms and reforms, for positive initiatives and initiatives that earned independent authority and recognition of the world community for the creation of all necessary conditions for quality work.”3

The President then flew to Mary airport by helicopter, before returning to Ashgabat.

References

  1. President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov launches the construction of railway Serhetabat – Turgundy, The state news agency of Turkmenistan – Turkmenistan today, 29 November 2017
  2. Mohammed Ashraf Ghani to take part in the launch of construction of Afghan part of TAPI gas line, State News Agency of Turkmenistan, 23 December 2017
  3. President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov launched the construction of the railway line Serhetabat-Turgundi, TDH/State Migration Service of Turkmenistan, 30 November 2017

Uzbek and Afghan presidents discuss Mazar-i-Sharif to Herat railway

Afghanistan’s President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani paid an official visit to Uzbekistan on 4-6 December 2017, at the invitation of President of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev.

In a joint statement:

11. The Presidents noted the priority importance of bilateral cooperation in the field of transport and transit corridors, which provide the shortest and most effective access to foreign markets.

In this regard, the Parties agreed to further intensify mutual efforts aimed at ensuring the construction of railways and highways, as well as facilitating the development of transit traffic and trade on the territory of Afghanistan. In particular, based on the efficient bilateral cooperation and the experience of mutual benefit, the Parties agreed to jointly implement the following projects aimed at further development of transport infrastructure in Afghanistan:

  • Construction of the “Mazar-e-Sharif–Herat” railway line, planned within the framework of the “Trans-Afghan Transport Corridor”;
  • […]

The Presidents welcomed the signing of cooperation agreements on the “Termez-Hairatan” bridge between the relevant organizations of the two countries.

Source: Joint statement, Office of the President, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, 5 December 2017

Remarking on the importance of transit facilitation between the two countries, President Ghani said that the agreement on implementation of Mazar e Sharif – Herat Railways will contribute to regional connectivity and allow smooth flow of exports. He said, “This is one of the major regional transit projects and both countries are earnestly working on the implementation and funding.”

Source: President Ghani: A New Chapter Of Afghan-Uzbek Relations Has Been Opened Out, Office of the President, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, 5 December 2017

We have to make every human effort to see Surkhandara connected to Puli-Khomri through the transmission line. And we have to devote the next month to see how we are going to move to implementation and financing the railway from Mazar-i-Sharif to Herat.

Let me assure the people of Uzbekistan and the government of Uzbekistan that the people and government of Afghanistan have every intention to transform Uzbekistan into one of our major trading and transit partners.

Source: President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani’s Remarks During Joint Press Conference With President Of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev, Office of the President, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, 5 December 2017

20 documents aimed at further strengthening of cooperation in political, trade-economic, investment, transport-communication, scientific, education and other spheres were also signed. They include documents on establishment of a joint commission on the issues of security, provision of legal assistance in civil, family and criminal cases, construction of Surkhan – Puli Khumri power line, the Mazari Sharif – Sheberghan – Maymana – Herat railway, the interaction in the sphere of freight and customs.

Source: Documents have been signed, Press Service of the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan, % December 2017

Conference of the Heart Of Asia – Istanbul Process

Part of President Ghani’s statement at the 7th Conference of the Heart Of Asia – Istanbul Process, held in Baku, Azerbaijan, on 1 December 2017.

Transport; the Chabahar port is going to be inaugurated in next couple of days and the railway connection to Afghanistan through Khaf to Herat, is fast proceeding completion. We are looking very much forward to seek corridor to India through Chabahar and equally we are delighted to provide the flow to Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan the linkages to Iran and beyond to the gulf.
[…]
Railway, the Turkmen railway has reached Aqinah, as I mentioned Khaf Herat is fast proceeding, but the price is what we are working on now to link Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan to Iran and Pakistan and China to all these countries. The five nation railway is moving from conception to financing and implementation.

And of course, the Lapiz Lazuli Route, Mr. President [of Azerbaijan], I will never forget your speech in the Chicago summit where you committed considerable resources to make both the air corridor possible but particularly the linkages and I want to thank Georgia and Turkey and congratulate you on this new way of diversification. I am very proud to state that Afghanistan, after 117 years, again is an inherent member of central Asian and Caucasian community. And we look forward to enhancing these cooperation.

Source: President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani’s Statement At 7th Conference Of The Heart Of Asia – Istanbul Process, 1 December 2017

BBC video of Hayratan

“”Ҳайратон” кўприги Афғонистонга неча миллион фойда келтирмоқда?” is a BBC Uzbek video about rail freight at Hayratan on the border with Uzbekistan, which was published on 30 November 2017. I don’t speak Uzbek so I have no idea what the commentary says, but there is lots of footage of the railway.

Colourised photo of Darulaman train

Someone has written a bot which automatically colourises photos that are sent to it via Twitter. This is what it did with a photograph of the Darualman railway. Note that this is just for fun, and it is not intended to be historically accurate!