Turkmen-Afghan talks in the field of transport

TURKMEN-AFGHAN TALKS IN THE FIELD OF TRANSPORT

On April 16, 2020, a video conference was held between the representatives of the “Türkmendemirýollary” agency [=Turkmenistan’s national railway], open joint-stock company “Demiryollary” and the Railway Authority of the Ministry of Transport of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.

The Turkmen side was headed by the Chairman of the “Türkmendemirýollary” agency A.Atamyradov. The Afghan side was led by the General Director of the Railway Authority of Afghanistan Mohammad Yamma Shams.

During the meeting, issues related to the construction of the Akina-Andkhoy railway line, the work carried out under the project for the construction of the Turgundi-Herat railway were discussed.

The participants also exchanged views on optimizing transit freight traffic and wagons passing through the IRA, further developing of the transport corridor between the Lapis Lazuli agreement participating countries. Separately, issues of obtaining visas for railway workers and other issues were considered.
Source: Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Turkmenistan

Turkmenistan and Afghanistan sign railway agreements

President of Afghanistan Mohammad Ashraf Ghani made an official visit to Turkmenistan at the invitation of President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov on 21 February 2019.

As part of the visit, an MoU was signed for Turkmenistan to build the 30 km railway extension from Aqina, on the border, to Andkhoy, the first significant place inside Afghanistan.1 Agreements were also reached for the regulation of cross-border rail traffic, while the possibility of building a Towraghondi to Herat railway is to be studied.

Dwelling on the key areas of economic cooperation, the heads of state specifically focused on the transport and communications sphere. […] The Presidents highly commended the finalization of works and commissioning of the Serhetabat–Torghundi and Kerki–Imamnazar railway networks, and the Rabat–Kashan–Kalai-nau power line.2

[Ghani] noted the presence of big opportunities in different directions of cooperation including in railway transport and communication, having expressed the confidence that Afghan part would also take part in the construction of the railroads of international importance.

In this context, President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani highlighted the importance of the initiative about the continuation of Serhetabat – Turgundy railroad to Herat, having assured that Afghan side would make relative work for the implementation of this project.
[…]
Speaking about the partnership in railway sphere, President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani noted the future of continuation of construction of Kerky – Ymamnazar – Akina railroad as well as continuation of Serhetabat – Turgundy railroad to Herat.3

During the visit

Afghanistan Railway Authority (ARA) and Ministry of Transpiration and Communication of Turkmenistan, in the presence of presidents of Afghanistan and Turkmenistan, singed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for construction of railway from Aaqina port to Andkhoy district. This project will be designed and constructed with the length of 30 km from Aaqina railway’s station to Andkhoy railway’s station by technical facilities and professional experts of Turkmenistan’s railway.

It is worth mention that based on the pre-signed contract between the railway authorities of both countries, construction of 10 km new railway for development of Aaqina railway’s station is in progress. Also during the official trip of the president of Afghanistan and containment delegation to Turkmenistan, two other agreements signed between railway authorities of both countries for administration and organizing of Tor Ghondai port railway’s affairs. The parties as well agreed to jointly assess extension possibility of railway from Sarhadabad-Tor Ghondi to Herat city.4

The lines in question are 1520 mm gauge, as with the route from Uzbekistan to Afghanistan.

An “Agreement on International Railway Transit Point on Turkmen – Afghan State border” was signed “on the government level”, and regulations for the organisation of railway communications between Serhetabat and Turgundy [Towraghondi, etc] adopted.5

Aqina railway opening ceremony wins event award

Embed from Getty Images

The celebrations of the opening of the second railway from Turkmenistan to Afghanistan on 28 November 2016 have won an award at the AV Awards event.

The winning project is a truly impressive high-tech show, organized for those who attended the opening of the Atamyrat-Imamnazar-Aqina Railway, the first phase of the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Tajikistan railway project.

A large octagon-shaped presentation tent (with a sitting capacity of 1,000) had specially been erected for the event at the border of Turkmenistan and Afghanistan. The tent housed display surfaces, shaped like traditional Turkmen ornamental patterns, onto which images were projected using video mapping, the projection technology that enables to create 3D images on real-world objects, while adjusting their shape. A kinetic installation on the ceiling with 500 rotating and shimmering globe-shaped lights and colorful three-dimensional projections on the floor created an immersive environment.

The two-minute show featured dynamic video images that came into sight like abstract sculptures and projected onto the walls, floor and ceiling. Suddenly there appeared a drop of water, then a carpet seemed to be woven from the light, after that ornaments of Turkmen carpets emerged, and finally all the images turned into a railway disappearing into distance.

[more…]

Source: Inauguration of Turkmenistan-Afghanistan railway track wins AV Awards 2017, State New Agency of Turkmenistan, 31 October 2017.

Christie partner Tribar Imagineering Ltd picked up the Live Event of the Year award for its Turkmenistan – Afghanistan railway link inauguration event. The stunning project used 16 Christie Boxer 4K30 projectors to create a powerful projection mapping narrative.​
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The Turkmenistan – Afghanistan railway link inauguration event, carried out by Tribar Imagineering Ltd, marked the inauguration of the first part of a new railway connecting Turkmenistan and Afghanistan for the first time [actually the second time – there is the line to Torghundi]. Presidents of both countries attended this event which marked a development of huge economic importance for the region. The high brightness of the Christie Boxer 4K30 – along with its compact, lightweight and rugged design for easy transport – made it the perfect projector for Tribar’s needs in the spectacular event which pioneered AV technologies to a potential new market in central Asia.​​
Source: Christie Celebrates AV Awards Success, Christie Digital Systems, 30 October 2017.

Turkmenistan – Afghanistan rail links to be upgraded

President Ashraf Ghani of Afghanistan made an official visit to Turkmenistan’s President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov in Ashgabat on 3 July 2017.

Due to the special geo-economics & geopolitics situation of both countries, Afghanistan and Turkmenistan are committed to pay special attention to set up land transportation and railway routes.

Both presidents agreed on expanding cooperation in railroad systems and taking certain measures in this regard. These measures include reconstruction and repairing of the Serhedabad– Turghandi railroad and also expanding Aqina railroad.

[…]

Taking into account the transit and transportation potentials of the both countries, The presidents emphasized on Afghanistan-Turkmenistan-Azerbaijan-Georgia-Turkey trade and transit corridor and Tajikistan-Afghanistan-Turkmenistan railway.
[…]

At the end of the meeting, the relevant authorities signed the following bilateral cooperation agreements in presence of the two countries’ Presidents:
[…]

  • Regulations on Organization of railway communication through the Turkmen-Afghan State border between stations Akina- Imamnazar;
  • Agreement between the Governments of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan And the Government of Turkmenistan on International Railway checkpoint at the Turkmen-Afghan State Border;

Source: Joint Statement by the Presidents of I.R. Afghanistan and Turkmenistan, Ashgabat, Turkmenistan, 3 July 2017

Afghanistan’s ambassador to Turkmenistan:

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

Turkmenistan – Aqina railway photographs

Some photos of the railway from Turkmenistan to Aqina on the Afghan border, which was opened in November 2016.

Presidents open Turkmenistan – Afghanistan railway

The railway from Atamyrat in Turkmenistan to the Ymamnazar border crossing point (85 km) and Afghanistan’s customs facilities at Akina (3 km) was officially opened on 28 November 2016 by Turkmenistan’s President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov and Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani.1

The first freight train on the new line comprised 46 wagons carrying flour, grain, cement, carbamide, urea and sulphur.2 3

Construction of the line had been launched by the presidents of Turkmenistan, Afghanistan and Tajikistan with an elaborate ceremony in Atamyrat on 5 June 2013, and a ceremony at Akina on 30 October 2016 marked the laying of the final rails.

A planned continuation of the line would extend it 35 km to Andkhoy, the first significant town in Afghanistan. The line also forms the first section of the proposed TAT Railway corridor from Turkmenistan via northern Afghanistan to Tajikistan.

The new line is the second cross-border railway between Turkmenistan and Afghanistan, after the short Soviet-built line to a freight terminal at Towraghondi, north of Herat.

References