Kazakh flour sent to Afghanistan by rail

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

Serhetabat – Torghundi railway (re)inauguration

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

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

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.

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

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…

References

  1. Construction of Afghan section of TAPI begins, 1TVNews.af, 23 February 2018
  2. Train Service Opens on New Turkmen–Afghan Railway: Serhetabat–Torghundi, State news agency of Turkmenistan – Turkmenistan today, 23 February 2018
  3. Train Service Opens on New Turkmen–Afghan Railway: Serhetabat–Torghundi, State news agency of Turkmenistan – Turkmenistan today, 23 February 2018

Towraghondi railway photos

Mirwais Nab, Ambassador of Afghanistan to Turkmenistan, tweets two photos of railway modernisation works at Towraghondi on the Afghanistan-Turkmenistan border.

(As an aside, a priority for the project should be an agreement to settle on one romanised spelling of the place’s name!)

Turkmenistan modernises Towraghondi rail line

The train comprosed the loco and 42 vehicles, including a coach carrying construction staff, track machines, cranes and other equipment and materials on flat wagons

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.

References

  1. President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov launches the construction of railway Serhetabat – Turgundy, The state news agency of Turkmenistan – Turkmenistan today, 29 November 2017
  2. Mohammed Ashraf Ghani to take part in the launch of construction of Afghan part of TAPI gas line, State News Agency of Turkmenistan, 23 December 2017
  3. President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov launched the construction of the railway line Serhetabat-Turgundi, TDH/State Migration Service of Turkmenistan, 30 November 2017

Aqina railway opening ceremony wins event award

Embed from Getty Images

The celebrations of the opening of the second railway from Turkmenistan to Afghanistan on 28 November 2016 have won an award at the AV Awards event.

The winning project is a truly impressive high-tech show, organized for those who attended the opening of the Atamyrat-Imamnazar-Aqina Railway, the first phase of the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Tajikistan railway project.

A large octagon-shaped presentation tent (with a sitting capacity of 1,000) had specially been erected for the event at the border of Turkmenistan and Afghanistan. The tent housed display surfaces, shaped like traditional Turkmen ornamental patterns, onto which images were projected using video mapping, the projection technology that enables to create 3D images on real-world objects, while adjusting their shape. A kinetic installation on the ceiling with 500 rotating and shimmering globe-shaped lights and colorful three-dimensional projections on the floor created an immersive environment.

The two-minute show featured dynamic video images that came into sight like abstract sculptures and projected onto the walls, floor and ceiling. Suddenly there appeared a drop of water, then a carpet seemed to be woven from the light, after that ornaments of Turkmen carpets emerged, and finally all the images turned into a railway disappearing into distance.

[more…]

Source: Inauguration of Turkmenistan-Afghanistan railway track wins AV Awards 2017, State New Agency of Turkmenistan, 31 October 2017.

Christie partner Tribar Imagineering Ltd picked up the Live Event of the Year award for its Turkmenistan – Afghanistan railway link inauguration event. The stunning project used 16 Christie Boxer 4K30 projectors to create a powerful projection mapping narrative.​
[…]
The Turkmenistan – Afghanistan railway link inauguration event, carried out by Tribar Imagineering Ltd, marked the inauguration of the first part of a new railway connecting Turkmenistan and Afghanistan for the first time [actually the second time – there is the line to Torghundi]. Presidents of both countries attended this event which marked a development of huge economic importance for the region. The high brightness of the Christie Boxer 4K30 – along with its compact, lightweight and rugged design for easy transport – made it the perfect projector for Tribar’s needs in the spectacular event which pioneered AV technologies to a potential new market in central Asia.​​
Source: Christie Celebrates AV Awards Success, Christie Digital Systems, 30 October 2017.

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.

[…]

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.
[…]

At the end of the meeting, the relevant authorities signed the following bilateral cooperation agreements in presence of the two countries’ Presidents:
[…]

  • 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.

[…]

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.