Turkmenistan and Afghanistan sign railway agreements

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.

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

Afghanistan Railway Authority on Twitter

The Afghanistan Railway Authority’s hitherto dormant Twitter account sprang into life today.

New Acting Chief of Staff of the Afghanistan Railway Authority

Introducing Acting Chief of Staff of ARA

Engr. Mohammad Zeb Montazer Maseed, on Tuesday (Sep 25, 2018) was officially introduced as the Acting Chief of Staff of the Afghanistan Railway Authority (ARA) by the Leadership Board to the employees of the aforementioned office.

Engr. Abdul Bari Siddiqi, Technical Deputy of ARA, congratulated the new Acting Chief of Staff, said that engr. Montazer Maseed is a professional and active head of the department. He also added that ARA has a special focus on increasing the capacity of its staff, which is priority development task of the head.

Engr. Montazer Maseed thanked ARA for their support and given opportunity as Acting Chief of Staff, and assured that he will not spare any attempt for the development of ARA and its personnel.

Engr. Mohammad Zeb Montazer Maseed having a Master degree in architecture, has previously worked with Independent Election Commission, and Political Division of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA).

Source: Afghanistan Railway Authority, 26 September 2018

First meeting of Shanghai Cooperation Organization railway heads

CEO of ARA Attends SCO Meeting in Uzbekistan

Mr. Mohammad Yamma Shams, DG & CEO of Afghanistan Railway Authority (ARA) on Sep. 20-21, 2018, attended the first meeting of Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) member countries’ railway heads in Toshkent city of Uzbekistan.

Meeting was participated by the representatives of the member countries (India, Kazakhstan, China, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan) and the heads of the observer countries (Afghanistan, Belarus, Iran, Mongolia).

Railway heads of the member countries highlighted the importance and significance of the meeting, and discussed the issues related to the growth of transportation services, increase of opportunities in the railway sector development, customs and tariff policy, as well the efforts to create new international corridors in the territory of member countries.

Mohammad Yama Shams DG & CEO of Afghanistan Railway Authority (ARA), emphasized on the development of railway projects in the region and in terms of its geographic location, mentioned the significance of Afghanistan as a bridge connecting Central Asia with South Asia.

Source: Afghanistan Railway Authority, 23 September 2018

AfRA signs contracts for Herat and Balkh administrative buildings

Contracts for the construction of administrative buildings for the Herat and Balkh railway directorates were signed on 3 February 2018 by Afghanistan Railway Authority Director General & CEO Mohammad Yamma Shams and Mohsen Amin, Deputy Manager of State Corps.1

Announcing the contracts on 5 February 2018, AfRA said construction of the administrative building for the Herat railway directorate would cost AFN 45,927,337.38 (about €533 0002), while construction of the Balkh building would cost AFN 43,451,155.21 (about €504 0003). Work is scheduled to start this month and be completed within 10 months.

State Corps is a construction company which began by working on projects for the United State Army Corps of Engineers, and the expanded into the energy sector where it has woprked on high voltage transmission lines and other power distribution projects.4

Herat province includes the Turkmenistan – Towraghondi railway and the new line which is being built from Khaf in Iran. Balkh province is home to the railway from Uzbekistan to Hairatan and Mazar-i-Sharif.


Afghanistan National Railway Plan at the CAREC Railway Working Group

The First Meeting of the Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation organisation’s Railway Working Group was held on Tokyo on 24-26 November 2015. The CAREC Railway Working Group was formed after the 14th CAREC Transport Sector Coordinating Committee Meeting which was held in Ulaanbaatar on 28-29 April 2015, and aims to guide the development of a short and medium-term railway strategy for the CAREC region.

Afghanistan National Railway Plan map

The presentations from the meeting can be downloaded from the CAREC website, and have a lot of interesting information about railways in the CAREC member countries.

Day 1 featured a presentation on the Afghanistan National Railway Plan and Way Forward by Mohammad Yamma Shams, Director General & Chief Executive Officer of the Afghanistan Railway Authority. This sets out current thinking under AfRA’s Afghanistan National Railway Plan, and the status of the various proposals for a 5500 km network.

Tajikistan trains Afghanistan Railway Authority staff

Tajikistan provides training to the staff of Afghanistan Railway Authority

According to (100 days) work plan of the ministry and railway department of Afghanistan, Tajikistan’s Ministry of Transport provides vocational trainings for the staff of Railway department.

Recently for the improvement of technical & professional capacity of staff, a short-term training program for three months provided to 30 personnel of Railway Authority in Tajikistan. The training is mostly over the operation and maintenance of railway. Other technical and vocational trainings has already been provided by Iran & China.

Railway Authority was created within the Ministry of Public Works in 1391 [=AD 2012] and the ministry is responsible to facilitate the formation as well as an independent organization Synchronized with the formation of this department, 106 km of the railways starting from Hairatan Port to Mazar-e-Sharif been constructed and every year millions tones of goods transported through this railway.

Railway’s Department have lots of infrastructure projects and with the implementation of these projects, fundamental changes will be executed in transportation system.

Source: Ministry of Public Works, 13 October 2015

Advisor to AfRA Director-General and CEO

Student completes thesis in Afghanistan

A University of Canterbury student who has just graduated with a commerce degree completed much of his thesis in Afghanistan, avoiding suicide bombings and kidnappings.

Najib Hedayatullah gives his own insight of what he had to face along his journey of gaining a Master of Commerce from the University of Canterbury. Gaining his masters degree is a great achievement, especially given the challenges he faced writing it up from Kabul.

Najib was a refugee and came to Christchurch from Afghanistan as a teenage refugee and had to make his own way. His supervisor Associate Professor Colleen Mills says Najib went from repeatedly failing to get a bachelors degree to achieving an honours degree then a masters.


“As I was analysing data for my thesis Afghanistan was going through elections which was an opportunity for my home country to head down a path of stability and prosperity. I had the choice of staying in peaceful Christchurch and continue my research or to go to Kabul and participate in the historical and transformational event. With my wife and two children – eight months and two years old ­ – I became part of a movement which assisted the nation in taking on democracy.

“I now have a job as advisor to the director-general and the chief executive of the Afghanistan Railway Authority. I am also the project manager of a $20 million project for the management, operation, maintenance and training of people involved in the Afghanistan rail line.

“During my stay in Kabul and in the course of my University of Canterbury research analysis I faced many problems such as no electricity. Billions of dollars of aid poured into Afghanistan but because of widespread corruption, Afghanistan still does not have good electricity generating plants. They import electricity from the neighbouring counties. Security was another challenge, suicide bombings and kidnappings were major worries.

“Every morning when I was leaving home I was not sure if I would get back home alive. So the above factors had put me under enormous mental pressure, but when I was thinking why I was in that country it was worth it.

“Although my family and I are now back living in Christchurch I am going back to Afghanistan to assist technocrats following the election and continue my work in assisting Afghanistan building its first railway network of 6200km.

According to the strategic plan of the new government this network will be the backbone for turning Afghanistan to a transportation hub linking China to the Middle East and Europe and linking central Asian states to southern Asian countries.

“As I enter a business career, based in Christchurch, I am grateful to the University of Canterbury and staff who have been fantastic for helping me achieve my goals.”

Source: Student completes thesis in Afghanistan, University of Canterbury, New Zealand, 29 April 2015

Operations and maintenance contract signed

The Afghanistan Railway Authority (AfRA) executed and officially singed a new Operation and Maintenance (O&M)

The Afghanistan Railway Authority (AfRA) executed and officially singed a new Operation and Maintenance (O&M) Contract for the Hairatan to Mazar-e-Sharif railway line on 15th of March 2015, with the Operator “SE Sogdiana Trans” of the Republic of Uzbekistan. This new contract is called MOMTC (expires on 4 December 2017) and will provide the following four services: Management, Operation & Infrastructure Maintenance of the line and will provide a comprehensive, theoretical and practical Training for the AfRA’s personnel.

Hairatan on the border with Uzbekistan serves as gateway for half of Afghanistan’s external trade, while Mazar-e-Sharif is Afghanistan’s fourth-largest city and major trading center in the north. The construction of this railway line of 75Km was completed in 2011 and since then the operation and maintenance work has been going on. During each operation year, about 2.5 million tons of goods were transported on the Hairatan – Mazar-e-Sharif railway line, strengthening the local economy, increasing regional trade, promoting regional cooperation, and helping Afghanistan begin to redefine its role in the region.

The Hairatan – Mazar-e-Sharif railway line has brought positive economic effects since it was built. The lower transport cost have reduced the price of goods and have resulted in higher quality goods coming into the country. More than 7 million people have benefited from this line through jobs and increased trade. This has included freight operators, traders, businesses, and the local communities.

Having an efficient, safe, and reliable railway transport network operating in northern Afghanistan has shown an overall employment growth of over 10% per year since 2010. About 1,200 people are currently employed in logistics and unloading operations, while more jobs are expected to merge in logistics services at railroad stations.

This railway line forms part of the Transport Corridors 3 & 6 of the Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC), connecting the Central Asia to the South Asia, the Caucasus and the Middle East. At a later stage, this railway network will be extended to Herat in the West via Sheberghan – Andkhoy – Aqina with connection to Turkmenistan and Tajikistan in the east via Kunduz – Sherkhan Bandar, which is part of another project called (Northern Afghanistan Railway Project).

Source: Afghanistan Railway Authority, 24 March 2015