MCC to build Kunduz – Jalalabad railway

“75km Railway to be Completed in Afghanistan”, reported TOLOnews on 2 August 2010. Work is “50 percent completed”, and there is a new opening date: “I hope the construction of this rail-road will be completed by the end of March, 2011,” said the Minister of Public Works, Abdul Qudoos Hamidi.

There is also this hint at something much bigger in the pipeline:

The ministry also adds that the Afghan government is planning to build 700km rail-road that will connect the capital Kabul with the northern province of Kunduz and the eastern city of Jalalabad.

The railway will be built by the MCC Chinese Company.

“The primary studies of this rail-road have already started, and its contract will be signed soon,” said Deputy Minister of Public Works, Ahmad Shah Wahid.

Source: TOLOnews, 2010-08-02

MCC is presumably China Metallurgical Group Corporation (rather than the other MCC). The Chinese group was selected for a concession to develop the Aynak copper deposits in 2007, with a railway proposed as part of the project.

The plan which seems to be firming up is to build a new north-south railway starting from Tajikistan. There would be a new line from the Tajik capital, Dushanbe, to the Tajik-Afghan border near Kunduz. The route would then run through Afghanistan from Kunduz to Kabul and the Aynak mining area, continuing on to Jalalabad. There would then be an onward link to the Pakistan Railways network, joining the line through the Khyber Pass to access to Pakistan’s coast.

Pakistan keeps talking about reinstating the out-of-action Khyber Pass line and extending it to Torkham (the Afghan border town) and possibly Jalalabad (the first major town in Afghanistan). However Pakistan Railways is reported to be facing serious financial and structural problems at present.

And as a correspondent points out, “railroads are built with money, not signed agreements to build railroads”.

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