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.
Iran – Herat railway project construction phases
|| Length, km
||Khaf (Kahwaf, Khawaf, Khawaaf, Khauf, خواف) (Junction at 24 km on the Torbat-e Heydariyeh – Sangan line) – Sangan (serves mines?)
|| Sangan – Myothek – Khoshbeh – Iran/Afghanistan border at Shamtiq (Shematigh, Shmtygh, شمتیغ)
||planned for October 2017?
||border at Shamtiq – Jono (Jonaw, Junaw) near the Islam Qala – Herat road to the north of Ghourian (Ghoryan, غوريان, Ghurian)
||30 km October 2017, rest by March 2018?
||Jono – Robat Paryan (Rabat Pariyan) – Herat (هرات) industrial area and Airport
||Afghanistan, supported by Italy
||Construction not yet started as of October 2017?
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.
Some photos of the Khaf – Herat railway project, posted on Twitter by Ahmad Mirzad, Online News Editor at 1TV.
Railways of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s Managing Director Saeed Mohammadzadeh and Afghanistan Railway Authority’s Director General Mohammad Yamma Shams signed a memorandum of understanding in Tehran on 23 July 2017 covering the Khaf – Herat railway line which is currently under construction, as well as planned further co-operation.
Mohammadzadeh reportedly said the first 30 km of the section of the line within Afghanistan is expected to be completed on 6 August 2017. The line will initially be used for freight including cement, petrol and oil, but passenger services are also envisaged for the near future. Iranian exports to Afghanistan by rail could reach five million tons/year. The rest of the part of the railway which is being built by Iran is predicted to be completed by March 2018.
Shams said AfRA had made preparations for calling tenders to appoint an Iranian company to build the final section of the route, which it is responsible for. Mohammadzadeh said RAI would also train 96 AfRA staff in Iran.
Iranian company Ballast describes itscontract for work on the Khaf – Herat railway project in an undated article on its website:
Client: Construction and Development of Transportation Infrastructure Company
Type of Contract: PC
Contract Period: 9 months
Location: Razavi Khorasan Province
The east corridor of country is a railway which begins from Chabahar port and through Dogharoun connects to Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan and China railway networks. Khaf-Sangan-Harat is a part of east corridor which is 191 km long. 2 parts of this rail lines are in Iran’s territory and 2 parts are located in Afghanistan. Considering the location of Sangan ore mine in Khaf, a major part of ore is being transported through this railway so development of railway from Khaf toward southern parts of country is considered as one of the government principle programs in this field. From international perspective since Afghanistan is a country gifted with many minerals, particularly the extension of Sangan mine, importance of using railway system as to reach to the open water highlighted. Khaf-Harat railway project, which is a single line with 76.8 km length stats from 24th km of Sangan-Torbat Heydarieh railway and from the 55th, is located along the border and at 78+800 reaches Shamtigh border point. This railway is designed based on axial load of 25 tons and 160 km/h speed.
Scope of Work
The project’s scope of work includes supply of equipment & materials, construction and installation works, laying rails.
Laying rail: approximately 90 km
Station improvement: 5
Ballast: approximately 224000m3
Sleepers: approximately 150000
Rail: approximately 11000 tons
Source: Khaf-Harat Laying Rail Project, Ballast Manufacturing & Infrastructure, Iran
There are (once again!) reports that the railway under construction between Iran and Herat will open by the next Iranian new year, that is March 2018.
Iran’s Mehr News Agency reports that Hossein Ashouri, Deputy Head of Operations at Railways of the Islamic Republic of Iran, has said the line has now been built to the Afghan border. On the Afghan side of the border the civil works are in place but the tracks still need to be laid. Of the two construction phases on the Afghan side of the border, “foundations of one is 50% through while the figure for the other is 25%”.
However the opening date for the line has long been a bit of a moving target, having been announced in previous years.
There are various news articles drawing on the same source, with assorted photographs which may or may not show the line in question – many do not.
A ceremony marks the start of tracklaying on the Afghan section of the Iran to Herat railway.
The locomotives are Islamic Repubic of Iran Railways Siemens/Mapna Iranrunnner or Safir locos.
View Larger Map
Some news reports on the railway from Khaf in Iran to Herat in Afghanistan have appeared, although I can’t spot English-language versions.
Using Google Translate, I think the Fars News report about progress with the railway says that the 76.8 km from Khaf to the border has been finished. It is suitable for 160 km/h passenger and 120 km/h freight trains, and services could start in October[?].
A BBC Persian article possibly says that Iran’s consul general in Herat, Mahmoud Afkhami Rashidi, has said that [construction, track-laying?] work on the Iranian border to Ghurian third section of the railway will resume after Eid al-Fitr [6 July 2016]. The fourth stage of the line will be built by the Afghan[?] government and take the line to an industrial area in Herat[?]. The governments of Afghanistan and Iran have recently held talks about security and technical co-ordination for the construction of the line.
A preliminary agreement for developing the proposed China – Kyrgyzstan – Tajikistan – Afghanistan – Iran railway was signed in the Tajik capital Dushanbe on 8-9 December 2014.
The meeting was chaired by Tajikistan’s First Deputy Minister of Transport, Sherali Gançalzoda, and included representatives of the transport ministries and authorities of the five countries. The attendees were updated on the current state of the railways, development plans, and the steps needed to connect the rail networks.
The Ministry of Transport statement doesn’t give much background (and is Tajik), but media reports say the route of the proposed line was agreed. Some reports seem to have got the list of places to be served a bit backwards, but they suggest the line would run from Kashgar in China to Herat in Afghanistan, then run on to Iran – presumably using the Khaf to Herat line which is currently under construction.
Asia Plus reports that Iranian company Metra has previously carried out a feasibility study for construction of the 392 km Tajik section of the proposed railway, using US$1m of aid.
There is no mention of gauge in any of the reports. The former Soviet countries and the small amount of railway in Afghanistan use 1520 mm broad gauge, but Iran and China both use standard gauge, and China seems to like building railways to standard gauge even in metre/1067 mm gauge regions of Africa. There is also no mention of a commitment to funding.
Update: Wahid Waissi, Director-General of Economic Cooperation at Afghanistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, confirms “it would be 1435 but two months time given for Kyrgyz to decide.”
Last month the presidents of Tajikistan and China met and discussed “the prospects of construction of railway China-Tajikistan-Afghanistan-Iran-Persian Gulf”, and the Ministry of Finance of Tajikistan and Export-Import Bank of China signed an agreement on preferential credit for construction of the 40.7 km Vahdat – Yovon section of the Dushanbe – Qurghonteppa line by 2016.