Hayratan freight terminal

Army Strong Stories has some comments from Major Chris LeCron on the “neat article from Bloomberg News” about the Hairaton – Mazar-i-Sharif railway project.

When we were there [at the Friendship Bridge], the rail line stopped about a mile down the road south into Hairiton. Containers were downloaded off the rail cars by forklift or RTCH (rough terrain container handler, pronounced rech like throw-up). Once downloaded, they are shipped by truck.

Bloomberg on Afghan railway projects

Afghan Railway to Draw Taliban Fire as It Boosts Economy, NATO

By Eltaf Najafizada and James Rupert

May 5 (Bloomberg) — Workers are laying track across north Afghanistan’s rolling grassland for the country’s first rail line, a project that will boost the economy, supply NATO troops and become a target for Taliban bombs.

“Railroads can reduce our isolation,” said Hamidullah Farooqi, a Kabul University economics professor and former transport minister, in a phone interview. “This is just the first line for a network that we hope can turn our country into a new trade route. That is what we need to create stability.”

Afghanistan May Build Its First International Rail Link in 2006

A 3 May 2005 news report from Marc Wolfensberger at Bloomberg

The government of Afghanistan plans to build its first international railway, linking the former Taliban stronghold city of Kandahar in the south, to Pakistan, said Public Works Minister Shorah Ali Safari.

Safari said in an interview today that he submitted a proposal to Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s cabinet 10 days ago and “hopes”‘ the project will be approved this year for construction to start in 2006. He didn’t elaborate on financing.

“Time has changed,”‘ said Safari, 60, speaking in the Iranian city of Mashad. “Trains are no longer used to invade countries — they’ll boost our economy and benefit our people.”‘

… Engineering studies on the planned Afghanistan railway — running 100 kilometers between Kandahar, the former base of the Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar, to the Pakistani border town of Chamman — have been completed, the minister said.

Construction work should be “relatively easy”‘ since the track will cross “plain territory, with no mountains and thus no tunnels to be built,” Safari said. He declined to give a time for completion.

… Beyond Pakistan, Afghanistan has “ambitious”‘ plans to develop its railway network, said the minister, who taught engineering at Kabul University in the 1960s. Feasibility studies are under way for a rail link between the western city of Herat to Iran and Turkmenistan. Another project foresees a railtrack between the northwestern city of Mazar-I-sharif and Uzbekistan, he said.

… He didn’t give details about financing the projects. He said he hasn’t contacted international financial institutions such as the World Bank, nor international private lenders.