Route of the Khaf – Herat railway

An attempt to gather together some information on the construction phases of the Iran to Herat railway line. Has anyone got a good map of the route?

This should not be taken as definitive! Corrections would be very welcome.

Reported distances vary a bit between sources. Spellings vary a lot.

Iran – Herat railway project construction phases

Country Stage Route Length, km Funding Construction completed
Iran
76.8 km1
Stage 1 Khaf (Kahwaf, Khawaf, Khawaaf, Khauf, خواف) (Junction at 24 km on the Torbat-e Heydariyeh – Sangan line) – Sangan2 (serves mines?) 14? Iran September 20163
Stage 2 Sangan – Myothek – Khoshbeh – Iran/Afghanistan border at Shamtiq (Shematigh, Shmtygh, شمتیغ)
4
~62 km Iran planned for October 2017?
Afghanistan Stage 3 border at Shamtiq – Jono (Jonaw, Junaw) near the Islam Qala – Herat road to the north of Ghourian (Ghoryan, غوريان, Ghurian) 56 61.2 Iran 30 km October 2017, rest by March 2018?
Stage 4 Jono – Robat Paryan (Rabat Pariyan) – Herat (هرات‎‎) industrial area and Airport 63 Afghanistan, supported by Italy Construction not yet started as of October 2017?

Gauge

The line is 1 435 mm (4 ft 8½ in) standard gauge, like the Iranian rail network (as well as the networks in China and most of Europe).

This is not compatible with the 1520 mm (5 ft) broad gauge used in the former USSR, including the lines crossing into Afghanistan from Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. However this is somewhat academic for the forseeable future as the lines into Afghanistan don’t connect with each other, and there are already other Turkmenistan – Iran rail routes which avoid Afghanistan altogether.

References

Iran – Afghanistan railway to be completed in 10 days?

Construction work on a segment of railroad project extended from Iran to Afghanistan in western Herat province will be finished in the next 10 days and then put into service, said the Iranian Ambassador [Mohammad Raza Bahrami] on Saturday [=14 October 2017].

Work on the 62-kilomteres long railway project from Iran’s border to Ghoriyan district of Herat was launched in 2007 at a cost of $75 million based on a grant from neighboring country. The project was scheduled to be finished in 2009.

[…]

Eng. Barzanoni, specialist of the railway project, said of all the 62 kilometres of the railway inside Afghan soil, about 33 kilometers railway was stretched and the rest would be completed in the next 10 days.

Officials say the Herat-Khauf 191-long railroad is being constructed in four segments. About 139 kilometer of the project is financed by Iran and the fourth segment cost is provided by the Afghanistan national budget.

Source: Work on Iran-Herat rail-line to complete till 2017 end. Storai Karimi, Pajhwok, 14 October 2017

Khyber Pass railway revival contemplated

The government of Pakistan is considering plans rebuild the Khyber Pass railway, reports the Express Tribune.

Pakistan Railways’ chairperson Perveen Agha along with other senior officials visited the track on Thursday. “The purpose of the visit is to start work on reviving and restoring the Peshawar-Torkham railway track,” said an official of the political administration. The political administration has already given shopkeepers and other encroachers along the railway track to vacate Pakistan Railway’s property within a week so that restoration work can begin.

Source: Govt mulling plans to restore historic railway track at Torkham, Express Tribune, 15 September 2017

Khaf – Herat railway MoU signed

Railways of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s Managing Director Saeed Mohammadzadeh and Afghanistan Railway Authority’s Director General Mohammad Yamma Shams signed a memorandum of understanding in Tehran on 23 July 2017 covering the Khaf – Herat railway line which is currently under construction, as well as planned further co-operation.1

Mohammadzadeh reportedly said the first 30 km of the section of the line within Afghanistan is expected to be completed on 6 August 2017. The line will initially be used for freight including cement, petrol and oil,2 but passenger services are also envisaged for the near future. Iranian exports to Afghanistan by rail could reach five million tons/year. The rest of the part of the railway which is being built by Iran is predicted to be completed by March 2018.3

Shams said AfRA had made preparations for calling tenders to appoint an Iranian company to build the final section of the route, which it is responsible for. Mohammadzadeh said RAI would also train 96 AfRA staff in Iran.

References

  1. Iran, Afghanistan to link railway networks. Ebrahim Fallahi, Tehran Times, 24 July 2017
  2. Khaf-Herat railway to open within weeks, MEHR News Agency, 20 July 2017
  3. Iran-Afghanistan Rail Linkup With in 3 Weeks, Financial trubune, 22 July 2017

Afghanistan and China sign railway feasibility study memorandum

Afghan Ambassador to China Janan Mosazai and a Chinese construction company signed a memorandum of understanding on 8 June 2017 for a Chinese-funded feasibility study to be conducted within the next 12 months for a railway line which would run from Sher Khan Bandar on the border with Tajikistan to Herat.1

Oddly, various news reports talk about “reconstruction”2 or “reviving” a railway, although there has not been a line from Sher Khan Bandar to Herat.

I can’t find details of which company is involved. Anyone know?

The President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan Mohammad Ashraf Ghani met with the president of the people’s Republic of China Xi Jinping, at the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, Thursday morning, Astana.
[…]
[The Chinese president] referred to the commercial cooperation between the two countries in the framework of one-belt-one-road design and said that China is keen to foster commercial ties with Afghanistan especially on construction of railways, dams, roads and housing, implementation of electricity projects and exporting Afghan products to Chinese markets.
[…]
President Ghani described construction of railways as a central element for encouraging regional connectivity, transit and commercial ties. Such connectivity initiatives will connect Iran with China and central Asia with eastern Asia through the Chinese economic corridor.

The President also stressed that it is time China and Afghanistan and other regional countries should take constructive measures for regional connectivity.
[…]
Following the meeting of the two leaders, two memorandums of understanding were signed by Afghan ambassador for China and chairman of Chinese company on construction of Sher Khan port-Herat railways and implementation of an electricity project in Kunar.

As mentioned in the MoUs, the Chinese company will conduct a feasibility study in twelve months on construction of Sher Khan port-Herat railways.

Source: President Ghani Meets With President Of People’s Republic Of China, Office of the President, 9 June 2017

References

Aqina border crossing between Afghanistan and Turkmenistan upgraded

Aqina border crossing (Photo: EU-BOMNAF)

To improve legitimate flow of people and goods and enhance counter trafficking capacity, UNDP’s EU-BOMNAF [Border Management Northern Afghanistan] Project recently completed construction of a new facility for passport control, registration, customs inspection, and vehicle search as part of an upgrade project of the Border Crossing Point (BCP) at Aqina, in Faryab Province, northwest Afghanistan, on the Afghanistan-Turkmenistan border. The facility also includes public toilet and shower rooms for male and female, and fencing around 180,000 square metres of enclosed area to improve security. The works were undertaken by Oxus Bakhtar Engineering & Construction Company, utilizing local labour from Andkhoy district and specialists from Mazar-e-Sharif. The facility is connected with the local water supply system and city power supplied from Andkhoy district.

In 2015 BOMNAF project staff visited the area as part of a feasibility study and needs assessment mission. It was noted back then that, in order to conduct border crossing formalities and checks, the Afghan Border Police (ABP) were using a primitive self-built building, which lacked necessary conditions for the job. Therefore, at the beneficiaries’ request, BOMNAF included upgrade of BCP Aqina into its construction priority list and initiated construction works in late 2016.

The same year, the Presidents of Turkmenistan and Afghanistan officially opened the Turkmen-Afghan Railway, which passes through BCP Aqina, which is on an important import-export route for Turkmenistan and Afghanistan national businesses as well as local small scale cross-border trading; it is also known as a major supply route for fuel and agricultural products across the region. Hundreds of trucks and railway wagons cross this BCP each week, carrying onions, potatoes, sesame seeds, nuts and pomegranates from Afghanistan to Turkmenistan and bringing in different types of fuel from Turkmenistan to Afghanistan.

BCP Commissar, Colonel Abdul Shkoar Niaze said that the newly constructed facility will tremendously help the Afghan Border Police in their efforts to properly manage and control the border, especially in countering drug trafficking and facilitating legal trade.

Project Manager William said we are pleased to handover this important facility to our Afghanistan beneficiaries and look forward to seeing improved capacity of the Afghanistan Border Police at this vital international check-point. In addition to construction, BOMNAF will also provide training for the officers that work here and in doing so, further increase ABp’s efficiency and capability on Afghanistan’s northern borders with Central Asia.

Aqina border crossing (Photo: EU-BOMNAF)

Source: EU-BOMNAF upgrades border crossing point (BCP) Aqina on the Afghan-Turkmen border, Delegation of the European Union to Tajikistan[sic], 19 June 2017

Khaf – Herat railway contractor

Iranian company Ballast describes itscontract for work on the Khaf – Herat railway project in an undated article on its website:

Client: Construction and Development of Transportation Infrastructure Company
Type of Contract: PC
Contract Period: 9 months
Location: Razavi Khorasan Province

Project Outline
The east corridor of country is a railway which begins from Chabahar port and through Dogharoun connects to Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan and China railway networks. Khaf-Sangan-Harat is a part of east corridor which is 191 km long. 2 parts of this rail lines are in Iran’s territory and 2 parts are located in Afghanistan. Considering the location of Sangan ore mine in Khaf, a major part of ore is being transported through this railway so development of railway from Khaf toward southern parts of country is considered as one of the government principle programs in this field. From international perspective since Afghanistan is a country gifted with many minerals, particularly the extension of Sangan mine, importance of using railway system as to reach to the open water highlighted. Khaf-Harat railway project, which is a single line with 76.8 km length stats from 24th km of Sangan-Torbat Heydarieh railway and from the 55th, is located along the border and at 78+800 reaches Shamtigh border point. This railway is designed based on axial load of 25 tons and 160 km/h speed.

Scope of Work
The project’s scope of work includes supply of equipment & materials, construction and installation works, laying rails.

Key Statistics

Laying rail: approximately 90 km
Station improvement: 5
Turnout: 54
Ballast: approximately 224000m3
Sleepers: approximately 150000
Rail: approximately 11000 tons

Source: Khaf-Harat Laying Rail Project, Ballast Manufacturing & Infrastructure, Iran

Iran – Herat railway to open next year?

There are (once again!) reports that the railway under construction between Iran and Herat will open by the next Iranian new year, that is March 2018.

Iran’s Mehr News Agency reports that Hossein Ashouri, Deputy Head of Operations at Railways of the Islamic Republic of Iran, has said the line has now been built to the Afghan border. On the Afghan side of the border the civil works are in place but the tracks still need to be laid. Of the two construction phases on the Afghan side of the border, “foundations of one is 50% through while the figure for the other is 25%”.1

However the opening date for the line has long been a bit of a moving target, having been announced in previous years.

There are various news articles drawing on the same source, with assorted photographs which may or may not show the line in question – many do not.

References

  1. Railroad to connect Iran, Afghanistan, Mehr News Agency, 25 February 2017

Central Asian railway politics

Could the TAT railway become TUT?

Tajikistan is talking about constructing a new railway line that would connect the country to Russia via Uzbekistan. Some poorly considered language was used in the statement about this project and that was seized upon by Turkmenistan’s Foreign Ministry, which fired off an equally ill-advised statement rebuking Tajikistan.

[…]

the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Tajikistan (TAT) railway line that finally made it from Turkmenistan into Afghanistan at the end of 2016.

Turkmen authorities might now wonder if Tajikistan could lose interest in TAT should the new railway project from Tajikistan through Uzbekistan advance.

[more…]

The Reasons Behind The Turkmen-Tajik Tiff, Bruce Pannier, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 29 January 2017.