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.

[…]

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

Aqina railway opening ceremony committee formed

The President of Turkmenistan signed the Decree on establishment of special committee for provision of high organizational level of opening ceremony of Atamyrat – Ymamnazar (Turkmenistan) – Akina (Islamic Republic of Afghanistan) section of the first phase of International Asian railroad transport corridor as well as of hydrocarbons reception, storage and offloading terminal at Ymamnazar custom post of Atamyrat etrap of Lebap velayat.

According to the document, the Committee is assigned to develop the plan for abovementioned opening ceremonies, define measures for high organizational level and assign responsible leaders.

Source: Committee for opening ceremony of Atamyrat – Ymamnazar – Akina railroad line is approved, Turkmenistan: the Golden Age Online Newspaper, 7 October 2016

President Berdimuhamedov inspects construction of TAT railway

Map of the Turkmenistan - Afghanistan - Tajikistan railway project

President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov reviewed the construction of the Turkmenistan – Afghanistan – Tajikistan railway during a working visit to Lebap velayat, Turkmenistan: the Golden Age reports.1

He travelled from Turkmenabat Airport by helicopter to Ymamnazar (or Immamnazar, or various other spellings), “where construction of Atamyrat – Ymamnazar – Akina – Andhoy steel line undergoes at full pace”. At Ymamnazar received reports about the customs facilities which handle Around 250 – 300 trucks per day, then visted an hydrocarbon terminal where “construction is at the final stage”. The terminal includes a “Railway loading rack for hydrocarbons”.

He then went to the future Ymamnazar station. As of the date of the visit, 85 km of earthworks had been built on the Atamyrat – Ymamnazar line, 82.2 km “filled with sand and gravel mixture”, 82 km of rails had been laid and a road parallel to the railway had been prepared. The earthworks on the Afghan sectioon of the railway to Akinoy “is prepared”, and construction works at two Gulistan and Ymamnazar stations “are at the final stages”.

“This railway is summoned to become the road of friendship and cooperation of the countries of the region and reliable transport main. Realization of this project, besides economic benefits, will open wide opportunities for integration of participating countries into the international economy at equal partnership.”
Turkmenistan: the Golden Age

Deputy Chairman of Cabinet of Ministers S Satlykov and Minister of Transport B Annameredov provided the president with information about the railway project. The President “expressed his interest in rates and quality of construction works at other parts of the railway”, and “emphasized that deadline for putting into operation of the railway are important requirements for construction of this complex engineering and technical infrastructure”.

During his return flight to Turkmenabat the President saw the work underway on two bridges on the Atamyrat – Ymamnazar – Akina railway. These bridges are 5 m wide, with the bridge at the 15 Years of Independence lake being 256m long and the bridge over the Karakum River being 363 m long. Construction of the reinforced concrete piers has been completed, and temporary piers and metalwork are being installed.

“Successful realization of the construction project of this strategic transport corridor will provide not only further steadfast social and economic development of Lebap region but the whole Turkmenistan as well. As it was mentioned above, the right bank of the Amudarya River has unique deposits of natural reserves. Establishment of reliable railway connection will serve as key factor of rapid development of this countless treasury.”
Turkmenistan: the Golden Age

I can’t seem to find any photos of this presidential trip, but I suspect there might be some out there somewhere – do let me know if you spot any!

References

TAT railway progress

Turkmenistan’s state news agency TDH has published an update on the TAT Railway project: News about the international Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Tajikistan railway project (TDH, 28 June 2016).

This says construction of the Atamyrat to Imanazar1 section of the TAT Railway is “well underway”, and is being implemented by the Ministry of Railway Transport of Turkmenistan “at an accelerated pace”.

The railway now runs for 80 km to the site of Imanazar station. Power transmission lines, the Gulistan and Imanazar stations, and two railway bridges 363 m and 256 m long are under construction.

TDH says this section of the line is of great importance, as it will support the industrial development of Lebap velayat (province) including a potash fertiliser mining and processing plant which is under construction. The new line will also “undoubtedly give new impetus to development of interstate trade-economic relations, promote the steady growth of their trade turnover and expand the regional transport, industrial and social infrastructure.”

  1. Also written Ymamnazar, Ymam Nazar, Ymymnazar etc

Turkmenistan’s Foreign Minister at Afghan railway ceremony

Turkmenistan’s Foreign Minister Rashid Meredov made a rare and little publicized visit to three northwestern Afghan provinces at the end of June.
[…]
Officially, Meredov was there to discuss bilateral projects. He participated in a groundbreaking ceremony for the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Tajikistan railway in the town of Akina in Faryab Province
[…]
Source: Majlis Podcast: Turkmenistan’s Afghan Dilemma, Bruce Pannier, RFE/RL, 2 July 2016

Lapis Lazuli railway inauguration soon

Lapis-lazuli hg
A piece of lapis lazuli from Afghanistan.

During a recent visit to Aqina in Faryab province, Mohammad Shakir Kargar, the Afghan President’s advisor on Central Asian affairs, gave officials the go-ahead for the creation of “security, cultural, infrastructure development, transport and protocol committees” for the start of work on an 36 km railway from Aqina to Andkhoy, reports Pajhwok Afghan News.1

Design work is to be completed over the next two to three months, and construction is to start soon. Faryab province Governor Syed Anwar Sadaat said preliminary works had already begun, and arrangements were being made for a the leaders of Afghanistan and Turkmenistan to attend a ceremony in Aqina to launch the project.

This line would be an extension of the railway from Turkmenistan to Aqina which is nearing completion (perhaps the start of work on the next section will be combined with an opening ceremony?).

Kargar said freight traffic at Aqina is prdicted to be 3.5 million tonnes in the first year, and 10 million tonnes by 2020. He said the Asian Development Bank would provide $200m for another section of line to connect the current projects with the existing railway from Hairatan to Mazar-i-Sharif.

The link from Turkmenistan to northern Afghanistan forms part of the “Lapis Lazuli corridor”, a concept for improving road and rail links between Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey, harmonising customs systems and removing other obstacles to trade.

  1. Lapis Lazuli railroad project to be inaugurated in 3 months“, Qutbuddin Kohi, Pajhwok Afghan News, 16 February 2016

Turkmenistan’s Afghan border rail link nears completion


View Turkmenistan – Andkhoy railway plan in a larger map

Turkmenistan has completed construction of the 85 km Atamurat1 – Imamnazar2 section of the future Turkmenistan – Afghanistan – Tajikistan railway, Trend News Agency reports,3 citing a message from the Turkmen government (I can’t find this message – does anyone know if it is available online?).

Construction of the line was ceremonially launched on 5 June 2013. Earthworks are visible on Google Maps satellite photos, running in a straight line southwest from Atamurat.

Trend says two bridges and two stations are still to be completed, along with the final 3 km from Imamnazar in Turkmenistan across the border to Akina4 in Afghanistan. A planned 35 km continuation within Afghanistan would take the line to Andkhoy.

In the longer term, this line would be extended though northern Afghanistan to Tajikistan. “Commissioning of the railway will make this route an inseparable link of the modern ramified transport and communications infrastructure in the Asian region”, Turkmenistan’s official new agency said in September 2015.5

According to Turkmenistan’s offical website Golden Age, President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov and President of Afghanistan Ashraf Ghani recently had a telephone conversation “on the initiative of the Afghan side”. During this conversation, Ghani “expressed his heartfelt gratitude to the Turkmen leader for laying a section of Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Tajikistan railway to the border of Afghanistan”.6

References

  1. Also written Atamyrat; formerly known as Kerki
  2. Also written Ymamnazar, etc
  3. Turkmenistan builds railway to Afghan borders, Huseyn Hasanov, Trend News Agency, 17 November 2015
  4. Also written Aqina, Acqina etc
  5. President of Turkmenistan received the governmental delegation of Afghanistan, Türkmen döwlet habarlar agentligi, 17 September 2015
  6. Telephone conversation between the leaders of Turkmenistan and Afghanistan, The Golden Age, 9 November 2015

Turkmenistan – Afghanistan railway under construction

45 km of the Atamyrat (formerly Kerki) to Ymamnazar (Imamnazar) section of the Turkmenistan – Afghanistan – Tajikistan railway had been laid as of June 30, Turkmenistan: the Golden Age reported on 30 June 2015.

Construction of the line was ceremonially launched on 5 June 2013. In January 2014 it had been reported that the 85 km section could be completed by June 2015.

Turkmenistan – Afghanistan – Tajikistan line needs money and security

Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Tajikistan Railway project to be completed soon if challenges addressed“, reports the Afghanistan Times on 1 November 2014, citing the head of the Afghanistan Railway Authority speaking in an interview with Radio Azadi.

However those “challenges” are the perhaps non-trivial matters of security and funding, and two years sounds like it would be pretty good going for building 495 km of new railway.

According to the report:

  • Yama Shams, General Director & CEO of the Afghanistan Railway Authority, told Radio Azadi that “Engineers and workers of the project are faced with serious problems in areas from Mazar-i-Sharif city to Andkhoy. This area is insecure. They cannot work after 4pm. Our staffers have not been attacked yet but they are under security threat.”
  • Studies have been completed for the 220 km section of line from Mazar-i-Sharif to Andkhoy (where it would meet the line from Turkmenistan). Studies for the next 275 km (presumably the link to Tajikistan) would be completed in 2015.
  • The project could be completed in the next two years if the workers were provided with security and financial support.
  • The total project covers a 635 km route from Aqina near the border with Turkmenistan to Andkhoy, Sheberghan, Mazar-i-Sharif, Khulm, Kunduz and Shirkhan Bandar, ending at Kalkhor Abad (Kolkhozabad) in Tajikistan. This suggests that going via Shirkhan Bandar rather than a shorter route to the Tajik border is back on the agenda.


View Turkmenistan – Andkhoy railway plan in a larger map