Turkmenistan – Afghanistan rail links to be upgraded

President Ashraf Ghani of Afghanistan made an official visit to Turkmenistan’s President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov in Ashgabat on 3 July 2017.

Due to the special geo-economics & geopolitics situation of both countries, Afghanistan and Turkmenistan are committed to pay special attention to set up land transportation and railway routes.

Both presidents agreed on expanding cooperation in railroad systems and taking certain measures in this regard. These measures include reconstruction and repairing of the Serhedabad– Turghandi railroad and also expanding Aqina railroad.

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Taking into account the transit and transportation potentials of the both countries, The presidents emphasized on Afghanistan-Turkmenistan-Azerbaijan-Georgia-Turkey trade and transit corridor and Tajikistan-Afghanistan-Turkmenistan railway.
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At the end of the meeting, the relevant authorities signed the following bilateral cooperation agreements in presence of the two countries’ Presidents:
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  • Regulations on Organization of railway communication through the Turkmen-Afghan State border between stations Akina- Imamnazar;
  • Agreement between the Governments of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan And the Government of Turkmenistan on International Railway checkpoint at the Turkmen-Afghan State Border;

Source: Joint Statement by the Presidents of I.R. Afghanistan and Turkmenistan, Ashgabat, Turkmenistan, 3 July 2017

Afghanistan’s ambassador to Turkmenistan:

Aqina border crossing between Afghanistan and Turkmenistan upgraded

Aqina border crossing (Photo: EU-BOMNAF)

To improve legitimate flow of people and goods and enhance counter trafficking capacity, UNDP’s EU-BOMNAF [Border Management Northern Afghanistan] Project recently completed construction of a new facility for passport control, registration, customs inspection, and vehicle search as part of an upgrade project of the Border Crossing Point (BCP) at Aqina, in Faryab Province, northwest Afghanistan, on the Afghanistan-Turkmenistan border. The facility also includes public toilet and shower rooms for male and female, and fencing around 180,000 square metres of enclosed area to improve security. The works were undertaken by Oxus Bakhtar Engineering & Construction Company, utilizing local labour from Andkhoy district and specialists from Mazar-e-Sharif. The facility is connected with the local water supply system and city power supplied from Andkhoy district.

In 2015 BOMNAF project staff visited the area as part of a feasibility study and needs assessment mission. It was noted back then that, in order to conduct border crossing formalities and checks, the Afghan Border Police (ABP) were using a primitive self-built building, which lacked necessary conditions for the job. Therefore, at the beneficiaries’ request, BOMNAF included upgrade of BCP Aqina into its construction priority list and initiated construction works in late 2016.

The same year, the Presidents of Turkmenistan and Afghanistan officially opened the Turkmen-Afghan Railway, which passes through BCP Aqina, which is on an important import-export route for Turkmenistan and Afghanistan national businesses as well as local small scale cross-border trading; it is also known as a major supply route for fuel and agricultural products across the region. Hundreds of trucks and railway wagons cross this BCP each week, carrying onions, potatoes, sesame seeds, nuts and pomegranates from Afghanistan to Turkmenistan and bringing in different types of fuel from Turkmenistan to Afghanistan.

BCP Commissar, Colonel Abdul Shkoar Niaze said that the newly constructed facility will tremendously help the Afghan Border Police in their efforts to properly manage and control the border, especially in countering drug trafficking and facilitating legal trade.

Project Manager William said we are pleased to handover this important facility to our Afghanistan beneficiaries and look forward to seeing improved capacity of the Afghanistan Border Police at this vital international check-point. In addition to construction, BOMNAF will also provide training for the officers that work here and in doing so, further increase ABp’s efficiency and capability on Afghanistan’s northern borders with Central Asia.

Aqina border crossing (Photo: EU-BOMNAF)

Source: EU-BOMNAF upgrades border crossing point (BCP) Aqina on the Afghan-Turkmen border, Delegation of the European Union to Tajikistan[sic], 19 June 2017

Turkmenistan – Aqina railway photographs

Some photos of the railway from Turkmenistan to Aqina on the Afghan border, which was opened in November 2016.

Central Asian railway politics

Could the TAT railway become TUT?

Tajikistan is talking about constructing a new railway line that would connect the country to Russia via Uzbekistan. Some poorly considered language was used in the statement about this project and that was seized upon by Turkmenistan’s Foreign Ministry, which fired off an equally ill-advised statement rebuking Tajikistan.

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the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Tajikistan (TAT) railway line that finally made it from Turkmenistan into Afghanistan at the end of 2016.

Turkmen authorities might now wonder if Tajikistan could lose interest in TAT should the new railway project from Tajikistan through Uzbekistan advance.

[more…]

The Reasons Behind The Turkmen-Tajik Tiff, Bruce Pannier, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 29 January 2017.

Presidents open Turkmenistan – Afghanistan railway

The railway from Atamyrat in Turkmenistan to the Ymamnazar border crossing point (85 km) and Afghanistan’s customs facilities at Akina (3 km) was officially opened on 28 November 2016 by Turkmenistan’s President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov and Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani.1

The first freight train on the new line comprised 46 wagons carrying flour, grain, cement, carbamide, urea and sulphur.2 3

Construction of the line had been launched by the presidents of Turkmenistan, Afghanistan and Tajikistan with an elaborate ceremony in Atamyrat on 5 June 2013, and a ceremony at Akina on 30 October 2016 marked the laying of the final rails.

A planned continuation of the line would extend it 35 km to Andkhoy, the first significant town in Afghanistan. The line also forms the first section of the proposed TAT Railway corridor from Turkmenistan via northern Afghanistan to Tajikistan.

The new line is the second cross-border railway between Turkmenistan and Afghanistan, after the short Soviet-built line to a freight terminal at Towraghondi, north of Herat.

References

Afghanistan’s railway door to Europe

Some pictures have appeared showing the new railway at Aqina on the Turkmenistan – Afghanistan border.

It would be nice if the opening ceremony led to a consensus on romanised spellings of the various place names – it would make tracking the project so much easier!

Turkmenistan to Aqina railway reaches Afghanistan

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.

Laying the final rails for the railway from Atamurat to Afghanistan

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

The next phase of the line will run for 33 km within Afghanistan from Aqina to Andkhoy.9

The new line is intended to form the first stage of the TAT Railway corridor linking Turkmenistan, Afghanistan and Tajikistan. Construction had been launched by the presidents of the three countries with a ceremony on 5 June 2013.

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.

References

  1. Also written Akina, Aqeena etc
  2. Or Atamyrat, and formerly Kerki
  3. Countless spellings including Ymamnazar, Ymam Nazar, Ymymnazar etc, sometimes inconsistently within the same official text
  4. شروع كار ريل گذاري خط آهن بندر آقينه با حضور وزير فوايد عامه، نماينده… , Ministry of Public Works, 1 November 2016
  5. The construction of the first phase of an international railway corridor Turkmenistan – Afghanistan completed, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Turkmenistan, 2016
  6. 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
  7. Asian International Railway Corridor, Regional Economic Cooperation Conference for Afghanistan, 1 November 2016
  8. Altcom previously built a road bridge over the Amu Darya.
  9. Various similar spellings

Photo of the Atamurat – Aqina railway?

The Khaama Press story Lazuli railway network to link Afghanistan to Europe and China soon published on 19 October 2016 has a photo which might be of the new railway from Atamurat in Turkmenistan to the Afghan border and Aqina. If so, this is only the second time I have seen photos of the line.

Aqina railway to be completed next month

Generally, construction and installation works Atamyrat – Ymamnazar – Akina railroad are planned to be completed in the first decade of 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.

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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.

Source: The President of Turkmenistan held session dedicated to forthcoming opening of transnational railroad, State News Agency of Turkmenistan, 7 October 2016