Steam locos at Kabul museum in 1995

A 2 April 1995 photo of two locos outside the Darulaman museum by Swen Connrad/YumeVision.

The Looting of a Culture: Afghanistan’s Endangered Heritage
A young Mudjahedin next to a train engine and a coach in the backyard of the National Museum in 1995..Under the Rabani and Massoud government in 1992-1996, the National Museum was completely loot and destroy. .Kabul, Afghanistan.

Tajikistan plans route of TAT railway

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.1 “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 .

References

Uzbekistan to part-fund Mazar-i-Sharif – Herat railway

Following the international Tashkent Conference on Afghanistan which was held on 26-27 March 2018, Afghanistan’s Ministry of Finance said Uzbekistan had pledged to provide USD500m to part-fund the construction of a proposed 657 km extension of the Uzbekistan to Mazar-e-Sharif railway onwards to Herat.1 This would connect with the line under construction from Iran to Herat, providing a transit route from Central Asia, and potentially China, to Iran and Europe.

Komil Allamjonov, Press-Secretary to the President of Uzbekistan, Tweeted:

The Afghanistan Railway Authority estimates that the new line would cost USD1.8bn, and so the Afghan government is seeking additional funding from other countries.

AfRA head Mohammad Yama Shams told Tolo News that talks had begun with Iran and were ongoing with the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, while China was also interested in investing in the project. A contractor could be selected in the near future, according to AfRA, and construction would take two years. AfRA estimates that Afghanistan would earn about USD40m a year from the line.

The quoted cost works out at USD1.8bn/657 km = 2.73m USD/km. The Hairatan – Mazar-i-Sharif line cost USD170m for 75 km2 or 2.27 USD/km, so the numbers are not dissimilar.

in his address to the international conference,3 Uzbekistan’s President Shavkat Mirziyoyev said:

I have no doubt that in the long run peace on the Afghan soil will open up the new opportunities and bring real benefits to all states of the greater Eurasian continent. It will promote strengthening common security and stability, create favorable conditions for the construction of motorways and railroads, laying of pipelines, development of regional and trans-regional trade.
[…]
We are jointly promoting the implementation of another strategic project – extension of the currently operating Hairaton – Mazar-i-Sharif railway built by Uzbek specialists up to Herat.

This project will allow to make a real and practical contribution to reconstruction of Afghanistan’s economy, create new jobs and increase the transit potential of the country.

Launching the trans-Afghan transport-communication projects in close integration with other and not less significant regional projects such as Uzbekistan–Turkmenistan–Iran–Oman and Uzbekistan-Kyrgyzstan–China will also create all necessary conditions for the development of intercontinental transport corridors in almost all directions – from north to south and from east to west through the shortest route.

Fazel Fazly, senior aide to the President of Afghanistan, tweeted:

Eklil Hakimi, Afghanistan’s Minister of Finance said:

Development Economist Rafi Fazil commented:

Hameed Hakimi, Research Associate at Chatham House, pointed out:

References

Serhetabat – Torghundi railway (re)inauguration

Two ceremonies marking stages of work on the Turkmenistan–Afghanistan–Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline were held on 23 February 2018, one in Turkmenistan to mark completion of the Turkmen section of the pipeline, and the second in Afghanistan’s Herat province to mark the start work on the Afghan section.1

The events included a first train on the recently modernised railway between Serhetabat in Turkmenistan and the freight terminal just across the border at Torghundi in Afghanistan.2

Guests included the President of Turkmenistan, Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov; President of Afghanistan, Ashraf Ghani; Prime Minister of Pakistan, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi; and India’s Minister of State for External Affairs, Mobashar Jawed Akbar.

Goods expects to use the railway include oil products, food, industrial goods and construction materials.

Although described in some reports as “new” railway, the line dates from the Soviet area; it possibly opened in the in the mid to late 1950s, although I have been unable to confirm this. It has now been modernised by Turkmenistan’s national railway company at Turkmenistan’s expense as part of “comprehensive help and support to the people of Afghanistan”, following the 7th Regional Economic Cooperation Conference on Afghanistan that took place in Ashgabat in mid-November 2017.3

The Afghan terminal is in Herat province, but is not in Herat city, which sometimes leads to confusion in news reports. There is also no consistency at all in the spelling of its name: Torghundi, Turghondi, Torghondi, Towraghondi, Turghundi, Torag Hundi, Turgundy, Tuurgundy…

References

  1. Construction of Afghan section of TAPI begins, 1TVNews.af, 23 February 2018
  2. Train Service Opens on New Turkmen–Afghan Railway: Serhetabat–Torghundi, State news agency of Turkmenistan – Turkmenistan today, 23 February 2018
  3. Train Service Opens on New Turkmen–Afghan Railway: Serhetabat–Torghundi, State news agency of Turkmenistan – Turkmenistan today, 23 February 2018

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!)