A ceremony was held at Aqina1 in Afghanistan on 30 October 2016 to mark the laying of the final rails for the new railway from Atamurat2 in Turkmenistan to Afghanistan via the border crossing at Imamnazar.3
The new line is around 88 km long, with about 85 km on the section as far as Imamnazar and about 3.55 km on the cross-border secton which runs into Afghanistan.
Guests at the ceremony included Engineer Mahmoud Baligh, Afghanistan’s Minister of Public Works (the MPW includes the Afghanistan Railway Authority), Turkmenistan’s Minister of Railways and the country’s Ambassador to Kabul,4 Special Envoy to the President of Afghanistan on the CIS countries Shakir Kargar as well as representatives of the railway builders, media and local authorities.5
Atendees “greeted the symbolic moment with the storm of applause” when a “powerful tracklaying machine of the construction units of the Ministry of Railway Transport of Turkmenistan” laid the final rails and sleepers.6 Minister of Public Works Mahmood Baligh said co-operation with Turkmenistan to build the railway network would not only be beneficial for neighbouring countries and peoples, but would also contribute to widening mutually beneficial regional and international economic co-operation that meets the interests of peace, stability and sustainable development.
Construction of the line is now almost finished, and the presidents of Turkmenistan and Afghanistan are scheduled to attend an opening ceremony on 28 November 2016.7.
The project included the construction of two 5.8 m wide bridges over the River Karakum, one 363 m long and one 256 m long, which were built by Turkmenistan in co-operation with specialists from Ukrainian company Altcom.8
Announcing the completion of the first section of the route, Turkmenistan’s Ministry of Foreign Afairs said the new railway “is intended to become an important link in the international transport, to encourage trade relations between the countries of the region and give a strong impetus to the restoration of the Afghan economy”, and would “contribute to the solution of social issues, ensuring employment of the population.”
The importance and potential of the new railway, which will connect Turkmenistan and Afghanistan with the economic ties, is proved by the intense freight traffic flow passing through the Ymamnazar customs post. Turkmenistan exports oil products, liquefied gas, carbamide, cement, grain, licorice, carbon, cotton seed oil, Saradja wool, etc. Moreover, large transit consignments of humanitarian and other cargoes pass through the Ymamnazar customs post. Citrus and fruits transiting through Afghanistan are registered as import. A number of food products are transported to the neighbouring countries of the region and Europe through territory of Turkmenistan.
Source: Turkmen construction specialists mounted the final joints of the first stage of the Asian railway in Akina, Afghanistan, Turkmenistan: The Golden Age, 30 November 2016.
Large social and economic impact is expected from this railway in Afghanistan, because, as a rule, automobile roads, power and energy lines are laid along such roads. Owing to such infrastructure, perspectives of such territories, where railroads are laid, along which working settlements appear, next to large industrial facilities, satellite cities grow. Thousands of working places are appeared; industrial growth is observed.
Thus, Turkmenistan – Afghanistan – Tajikistan railroad will become another golden link of the Asian railway corridor, which in its turn will become an important segment of international transport networks uniting two parts of the huge continent, Europe and Asia.
During a recent visit to Aqina in Faryab province, Mohammad Shakir Kargar, the Afghan President’s advisor on Central Asian affairs, gave officials the go-ahead for the creation of “security, cultural, infrastructure development, transport and protocol committees” for the start of work on an 36 km railway from Aqina to Andkhoy, reports Pajhwok Afghan News.1
Design work is to be completed over the next two to three months, and construction is to start soon. Faryab province Governor Syed Anwar Sadaat said preliminary works had already begun, and arrangements were being made for a the leaders of Afghanistan and Turkmenistan to attend a ceremony in Aqina to launch the project.
This line would be an extension of the railway from Turkmenistan to Aqina which is nearing completion (perhaps the start of work on the next section will be combined with an opening ceremony?).
The link from Turkmenistan to northern Afghanistan forms part of the “Lapis Lazuli corridor”, a concept for improving road and rail links between Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey, harmonising customs systems and removing other obstacles to trade.
Appleton & CANARAIL announce extension of Scope of Work for the Afghanistan Railway Feasibility Study for Northern Afghanistan
Appleton Consulting Incorporated (ACI) is proud to announce, in concert with its partner CANARAIL, the extension of the Scope of Work for the Afghanistan Railway Feasibility Study for Northern Afghanistan from 300kms to approximately 700kms. Awarded in December, 2013 to ACI and CANARAIL, the funding for this project is from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and serves as part of a larger Central Asian regional transportation network that encompasses ten countries in the region and is intended to enhance large scale commercial market activity.
The Project will be implemented in two phases :
Phase One: The railway line will connect Kholm to Aqina at the Turkmenistan border via Sheberghan and Andkhoy; and
Phase Two: The railway will connect Kholm to Sherkhan Bandar at the Tajikistan border via Kunduz.
This is the first railway project to be managed by the Afghanistan Railway Authority (AFRA) established in 2012 for the development of more than 3000kms of railway in Afghanistan. The railway alignment is part of a major corridor in the country intended to serve the emerging mineral, oil and gas sector.
The major stakeholders in this project include the Ministry of Public Works; the Ministry of Mines and Petroleum; the Ministry of Transport; the Ministry of Agriculture and various other national and regional organizations.
However those “challenges” are the perhaps non-trivial matters of security and funding, and two years sounds like it would be pretty good going for building 495 km of new railway.
According to the report:
Yama Shams, General Director & CEO of the Afghanistan Railway Authority, told Radio Azadi that “Engineers and workers of the project are faced with serious problems in areas from Mazar-i-Sharif city to Andkhoy. This area is insecure. They cannot work after 4pm. Our staffers have not been attacked yet but they are under security threat.”
Studies have been completed for the 220 km section of line from Mazar-i-Sharif to Andkhoy (where it would meet the line from Turkmenistan). Studies for the next 275 km (presumably the link to Tajikistan) would be completed in 2015.
The project could be completed in the next two years if the workers were provided with security and financial support.
The report says completion had been planned for the end of 2016, but has now been brought forward to June 2015. The 400 km route between Atamurat, Imamnazar, Aqina, Andkhoy, Panj and Tajikistan “will be implemented by 2015”