Photos of the Iran to Herat railway project

Some photos of the railway under construction between Iran and Herat province.

And some older photos:

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

Khaf – Herat railway Stage 4 Phase 1 approved

Afghanistan’s National Procurement Commission has approved the Phase 1 of Stage 4 of the railway being built from Khaf in Iran to Herat province in Afghanistan. Here is my attempt to identify the Khaf – Herat railway construction stages.

National Procurement Commission in a session dated Feb 18, 2019 approved the design and construction of 43 km of phase 1 of Part 4 of Khawaf-Herat railway from Ghoryan district to Rabat Paryan. This project will be constructed by a Kazakhstani Company from development budget of Afghan Government.

Khawaf-Herat railway comprised from 4 parts with total length of 225 km. The 1st and 2nd parts with length of 76 km completed recently in the territory of Iran and the 3rd part, from the border to Ghoryan district is being constructing with the length of 62 km, will be completed soon for operation.

Khawaf-Herat railway has high economic and transportation importance and by completion and exploitation of it Afghanistan could connect through Iran’s railway to southern borders of Iran and Turkey railway network.

Source: Design and Construction Phase 1 of Part 4 of Khwaf – Herat Railway Approves, Afghanistan Railway Authority, 19 February 2019

Third phase of Khaf to Herat railway complete

Local officials in western Herat province on Tuesday [8 January 2019] said that the third phase of Khawaf-Herat railroad has been completed and that the project will be inaugurated in the near future.

The fourth phase of the project will be implemented soon too, said officials.

[more…]

Source: Third Phase Of Khawaf-Herat Railroad To Be Launched, Nasir Salehi, Tolo News, 8 January 2019

Iran-Afghanistan railway to be launched by March 2019

The railway from Khaf in Iran to Herat province in Afghanistan will be inaugurated by the end of the Persian year [=March 20 2019], Iran’s Deputy Minister of Roads & Urban Development Kheirollah Khademi told local media on 19 July.1

As always, reports are unclear as to exactly how much of the line will open, whether it will be opened in phases and so on. This is not the first time there have been reports that it would open by the next Persian new year.

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

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

Route of the Khaf – Herat railway

An attempt to gather together some information on the construction phases of the Iran to Herat railway line. Has anyone got a good map of the route?

This should not be taken as definitive! Corrections would be very welcome.

Reported distances vary a bit between sources. Spellings vary a lot.

Updated with Stage 4 details 24 February 2019.

Iran – Herat railway project construction phases

Country Stage Route Length, km Funding Construction completed
Iran
76.8 km1
Stage 1 Khaf (Kahwaf, Khawaf, Khawaaf, Khauf, خواف) (Junction at 24 km on the Torbat-e Heydariyeh – Sangan line) – Sangan2 (serves mines?) 14? Iran September 20163
Stage 2 Sangan – Myothek – Khoshbeh – Iran/Afghanistan border at Shamtiq (Shematigh, Shmtygh, شمتیغ)
4
~62 km Iran planned for October 2017?
Afghanistan Stage 3 border at Shamtiq – Jono (Jonaw, Junaw) near the Islam Qala – Herat road to the north of Ghourian (Ghoryan, غوريان, Ghurian) 56 61.2 Iran 30 km October 2017, rest January 20197
Stage 4 Phase 1 Jono – Robat Paryan (Rabat Pariyan) 43 km Afghanistan (supported by Italy?) Construction approved February 20198
Stage 4 Phase 2 Robat Paryan – Herat (هرات‎‎) industrial area and Airport c.20 km Afghanistan, supported by Italy? Construction not yet approved as of February 2019

Gauge

The line is 1 435 mm (4 ft 8½ in) standard gauge, like the Iranian rail network (as well as the networks in China and most of Europe).

This is not compatible with the 1520 mm (5 ft) broad gauge used in the former USSR, including the lines crossing into Afghanistan from Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. However this is somewhat academic for the forseeable future as the lines into Afghanistan don’t connect with each other, and there are already other Turkmenistan – Iran rail routes which avoid Afghanistan altogether.

References

Iran – Afghanistan railway to be completed in 10 days?

Construction work on a segment of railroad project extended from Iran to Afghanistan in western Herat province will be finished in the next 10 days and then put into service, said the Iranian Ambassador [Mohammad Raza Bahrami] on Saturday [=14 October 2017].

Work on the 62-kilomteres long railway project from Iran’s border to Ghoriyan district of Herat was launched in 2007 at a cost of $75 million based on a grant from neighboring country. The project was scheduled to be finished in 2009.

[…]

Eng. Barzanoni, specialist of the railway project, said of all the 62 kilometres of the railway inside Afghan soil, about 33 kilometers railway was stretched and the rest would be completed in the next 10 days.

Officials say the Herat-Khauf 191-long railroad is being constructed in four segments. About 139 kilometer of the project is financed by Iran and the fourth segment cost is provided by the Afghanistan national budget.

Source: Work on Iran-Herat rail-line to complete till 2017 end. Storai Karimi, Pajhwok, 14 October 2017