Afghanistan’s National Procurement Commission has approved the Phase 1 of Stage 4 of the railway being built from Khaf in Iran to Herat province in Afghanistan. Here is my attempt to identify the Khaf – Herat railway construction stages.
National Procurement Commission in a session dated Feb 18, 2019 approved the design and construction of 43 km of phase 1 of Part 4 of Khawaf-Herat railway from Ghoryan district to Rabat Paryan. This project will be constructed by a Kazakhstani Company from development budget of Afghan Government.
Khawaf-Herat railway comprised from 4 parts with total length of 225 km. The 1st and 2nd parts with length of 76 km completed recently in the territory of Iran and the 3rd part, from the border to Ghoryan district is being constructing with the length of 62 km, will be completed soon for operation.
Khawaf-Herat railway has high economic and transportation importance and by completion and exploitation of it Afghanistan could connect through Iran’s railway to southern borders of Iran and Turkey railway network.
Source: Design and Construction Phase 1 of Part 4 of Khwaf – Herat Railway Approves, Afghanistan Railway Authority, 19 February 2019
Conflicting media reports suggest that Tajikistan might, or might not, have pulled out of the Turkmenistan – Afghanistan – Tajikistan railway project.
On 22 September Associated Press reported that ambassador to Uzbekistan Imom Sodiq Ashourboyzoda had said that Tajikistan had decided to indefinitely postpone the project. The decision had been taken because improved relations with Uzbekistan since the death of its President Karimov meant the project was no long feasible. The line would have enabled rail traffic to reach Tajikistan without transiting Uzbekistan.
AP reported that Turkmenistan’s Foreign Ministry said on 22 September that it has formally notified Tajikistan that it did not understand the statement.
The Diplomat published some analysis.
However, on 25 September Aki Press said that Radio Ozodi had reported that a high-level official in the Ministry of Transport of Tajikistan had said work on the project was continuing, Tajik authorities had identified a route and Afghanistan should decide on the route of its section of the line. “We want to have an alternative to the railway running through Uzbekistan,” the transport ministry official reportedly stated.
The railway from Khaf in Iran to Herat province in Afghanistan will be inaugurated by the end of the Persian year [=March 20 2019], Iran’s Deputy Minister of Roads & Urban Development Kheirollah Khademi told local media on 19 July.
As always, reports are unclear as to exactly how much of the line will open, whether it will be opened in phases and so on. This is not the first time there have been reports that it would open by the next Persian new year.
AzerNews reports that Tajikistan’s Ministry of Transport has provided the government with a draft route for the Tajik section of the Tajikistan-Afghanistan-Turkmenistan railway. “The route of the Tajik section runs through the districts of J. Balkhi, Jaihun and Nizhny Pyanj”, the source said. “After the state commission approves the project, the feasibility study for the project will begin, that is, the length of the road, the number of bridges, etc. will be determined”.
Also known as Panji Poyon, Nizhny Pyanj is the location of a bridge over the river which forms the border between Tajikistan and Afghanistan .
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!)
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.
Updated with Stage 4 details 24 February 2019.
Iran – Herat railway project construction phases
|| Length, km
||Khaf (Kahwaf, Khawaf, Khawaaf, Khauf, خواف) (Junction at 24 km on the Torbat-e Heydariyeh – Sangan line) – Sangan (serves mines?)
|| Sangan – Myothek – Khoshbeh – Iran/Afghanistan border at Shamtiq (Shematigh, Shmtygh, شمتیغ)
||planned for October 2017?
||border at Shamtiq – Jono (Jonaw, Junaw) near the Islam Qala – Herat road to the north of Ghourian (Ghoryan, غوريان, Ghurian)
||30 km October 2017, rest January 2019
|Stage 4 Phase 1
||Jono – Robat Paryan (Rabat Pariyan)
|| 43 km
||Afghanistan (supported by Italy?)
||Construction approved February 2019
|Stage 4 Phase 2
||Robat Paryan – Herat (هرات) industrial area and Airport
|| c.20 km
||Afghanistan, supported by Italy?
||Construction not yet approved as of February 2019
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.
Some photos of the Khaf – Herat railway project, posted on Twitter by Ahmad Mirzad, Online News Editor at 1TV.