Afghanistan is almost connected with #Iran via Herat- Khaf railwys.
— Waheed Faizi (@Imwaheedfaizi) July 7, 2020
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
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.
— ارگ (@ARG_AFG) February 21, 2019
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
An article about travelling around Turkmenistan by train, from Wilbur’s Travels’ On Track website. With all too rare photos of Turkmen railways.
Conflicting media reports suggest that Tajikistan might, or might not, have pulled out of the Turkmenistan – Afghanistan – Tajikistan railway project.
On 22 September Associated Press reported1 that ambassador to Uzbekistan Imom Sodiq Ashourboyzoda had said that Tajikistan had decided to indefinitely postpone the project. The decision had been taken because improved relations with Uzbekistan since the death of its President Karimov2 meant the project was no long feasible. The line would have enabled rail traffic to reach Tajikistan without transiting Uzbekistan.
AP reported that Turkmenistan’s Foreign Ministry said on 22 September that it has formally notified Tajikistan that it did not understand the statement.
The Diplomat published some analysis.3
However, on 25 September Aki Press said4 that Radio Ozodi had reported that a high-level official in the Ministry of Transport of Tajikistan had said work on the project was continuing, Tajik authorities had identified a route and Afghanistan should decide on the route of its section of the line. “We want to have an alternative to the railway running through Uzbekistan,” the transport ministry official reportedly stated.
Kazakhstan’s Flour Was Sent On The New Railway Route To Afghanistan
On July 18 this year a train loaded with flour was sent from Kostanay station on the route through Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan to Afghanistan.
The length of the route Kostanay – Bolashak – Serhetabad (Turkmenistan) is more than 3,500 kilometers. As part of the organized train – more than fifty wagons with a cargo weight of 3300 tons net.
“Kazakhstan holds the leading positions in the world for the production of grain. The main task of the railway is to ensure timely and high-quality transportation of agricultural products, including this strategic cargo. The development of transportation along the new route will increase the transit potential of Kazakhstan, reduce turnover and accelerate the return of rolling stock by 2-2.5 times,” Mukhtar Zhambulov, Deputy General Director for Operations of “KTZ-Freight Transportation” JSC said.
From the beginning of 2018 for export 4.2 million tons of grain was delivered, which is 56% higher than the same indicator of 2017. Flour was transported 1.2 million tons, which is 8% more than in the past year.
Products of Kazakhstan agricultural producers are sent mainly to Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan and Iran.
Source: Kazakhstan’s Flour Was Sent On The New Railway Route To Afghanistan, KTZ press office, 18 July 2018
Two ceremonies marking stages of work on the Turkmenistan–Afghanistan–Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline were held on 23 February 2018, one in Turkmenistan to mark completion of the Turkmen section of the pipeline, and the second in Afghanistan’s Herat province to mark the start work on the Afghan section.1
— Syed Anwar (@Sayed_Anwer) February 23, 2018
The events included a first train on the recently modernised railway between Serhetabat in Turkmenistan and the freight terminal just across the border at Torghundi in Afghanistan.2
Today we stepped forward wth another pragmatic action to connect north 2 south & replace negative security rivalry wth a positive economic cooperation.Todays #TAPI, TAP500, Railway & Fiber Optic inauguration in AFG soil proves our resolve commitment to economic integrated region. pic.twitter.com/EJnSRqQkOu
— Mirwais Nab (@nab_mn) February 23, 2018
TAPI, TAP500 & Railway will change the role of game in AFG & region. Durable stability comes through addressing poverty & unemployment.TAPI would provide 20000 job opportunities 2 AFG youth. Vital step 2 fight terrorism & extremism. No peace in absence of economic growth.
— Mirwais Nab (@nab_mn) February 23, 2018
Guests included the President of Turkmenistan, Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov; President of Afghanistan, Ashraf Ghani; Prime Minister of Pakistan, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi; and India’s Minister of State for External Affairs, Mobashar Jawed Akbar.
Multiple high-level events on mega energy, power transmission, fiber optics and railways took place today in Herat province between heads of states of Afghanistan 🇦🇫 Turkmenistan 🇹🇲 Pakistan 🇵🇰 India 🇮🇳 @RECCAfghanistan pic.twitter.com/cRBF0QrGc7
— Afghan Embassy AUS (@AfghanEmbassyAu) February 23, 2018
Goods expects to use the railway include oil products, food, industrial goods and construction materials.
Although described in some reports as “new” railway, the line dates from the Soviet area; it possibly opened in the in the mid to late 1950s, although I have been unable to confirm this. It has now been modernised by Turkmenistan’s national railway company at Turkmenistan’s expense as part of “comprehensive help and support to the people of Afghanistan”, following the 7th Regional Economic Cooperation Conference on Afghanistan that took place in Ashgabat in mid-November 2017.3
— 1TVNewsAF (@1TVNewsAF) February 23, 2018
The Afghan terminal is in Herat province, but is not in Herat city, which sometimes leads to confusion in news reports. There is also no consistency at all in the spelling of its name: Torghundi, Turghondi, Torghondi, Towraghondi, Turghundi, Torag Hundi, Turgundy, Tuurgundy…
I visited #Torghundi port in 2007, an empty & dry place with a small office, the contrast between two sides were huge: #AFG side being dry, dusty & dark while Turkmen side green, lighted & full of life! We envision #TAPI to enlighten our part too!
— Orzala (@Orzala) February 23, 2018
Working rapidly continues on the construction of railway toward Herat. We will inaugurate operation of Serhetabad-Torghundi Railway soon. It makes us one step closer to connect Central Asia through Herat to South & West Asia. Slowly but steadily to realization of the land bridge. pic.twitter.com/WeiYSAemab
— Mirwais Nab (@nab_mn) January 30, 2018
(As an aside, a priority for the project should be an agreement to settle on one romanised spelling of the place’s name!)
Turkmenistan’s President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov visted Serhetabat in late November to launch the “construction of new railway” from the Turkmen border to Towraghondi in Afghanistan, reported Turkmenistan’s official news agency on 29 November 2017.1
A “ceremony of launching Serhetabat – Turgundy railway” is scheduled for the second half of February 2018, with Afghanistan’s President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani planning to attend.2
There already is a railway from Turkmenistan to Towraghondi, so this project might be an upgrade rather than a new line.
The President arrived by helicopter on the morning of the construction launch event, and made a speech highlighting the importance of developing transport links.
Important role is given to the involvement of entire potential of the railway sphere in the development of all branches of national economy and multimodal system of Turkmenistan. Therefore, the greatest attention is paid to the expansion and modernization of its infrastructure.
As an example, the Head of the State gave the railway Kazakhstan – Turkmenistan – Iran, Kerky (formerly Atamyrat) – Ymamnazar – Akina. These and other routes as well those that were planned to be built open new opportunities for fruitful relations between the countries of the region and for consolidation of their economic power.
We render comprehensive support and assistance to fraternal Afghan people and will continue putting all efforts that enhance the revival of the neighbouring state, the Head of the State said, having highlighted that recently, Turkmenistan hosted the VII Regional Economic Cooperation Conference of Afghanistan where important agreements of regional importance were reached.
Having highlighted the decision on increase of the volumes of energy supplied from Turkmenistan to the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, the Head of the State directed Turkmen railway constructors, who commenced the construction of the roads to Turgundy by the request of Afghanistan.
Source: President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov launches the construction of railway Serhetabat – Turgundy, State News Agency of Turkmenistan – Turkmenistan Today, 29 November 2017
The President then watched a train leave Serhetabat for Towraghondi. The locomotive reportedly hauled 42 vehicles, including a coach carrying railway construction staff, track machines, cranes and other equipment and materials on flat wagons “loaded with all necessary for the construction of new interstate railway line.”
Turkmen staff are to build the railway and develop infrastructure to increase throughput at Towraghondi, enabling Afghanistan to import and export goods more efficiently and providing better links with transport corridors running east-west and north-south in Central Asia.
After watching the train depart, the President held a meeting with railway personnel who would work on the project. The railwaymen “expressed sincere gratitude to the head of state for tireless work for the happiness of the Turkmen people, for the policy of progressive reforms and reforms, for positive initiatives and initiatives that earned independent authority and recognition of the world community for the creation of all necessary conditions for quality work.”3
The President then flew to Mary airport by helicopter, before returning to Ashgabat.