German firms to use Herat railway?

A German firm is reported to be negotiating to use the future railway from Iran to Herat to suply NATO.

German Army spokesman confirms negotiations with Iranian Pvt Firms

Berlin, April 2, IRNA – A spokesman of German Army here Wednesday confirmed in an interview with IRNA representatives of Iranian private firms negotiated with Germans regarding transferring some non-military facilities for German forces situated in Afghanistan.

The spokesman who spoke on condition of anonymity said, “The German sides negotiating with Iran are representatives of private firms that provide foodstuff and fuel for the German forces serving at NATO units in Afghanistan.

He added, “These companies are after finding alternative routs for Pakistan to forward those goods to Afghanistan thorough it.”

According to him, those companies have considered using the Chabahar-Zaranj road, or the Tehran-Harat railroad to transfer their logistical, non-military facilities to Afghanistan.
Source: IRNA 2009-04-02

Military transport routes to Afghanistan

An interesting 17 February 2009 article from Der Spiegel about the problems of supplying military forces in Afghanistan. This problem is nothing new of course – various armies over the centuries have faced it before.

Allies Struggle to Find Safer Supply Routes

By Dieter Bednarz, Rüdiger Falksohn and Alexander Szandar

The Taliban has staged repeated attacks on Afghanistan’s perilous Khyber Pass against trucks loaded with NATO supplies. The international security forces, including Germany’s Bundeswehr, are scrambling to find safer routes – and might even consider one through Iran.

Interesting bits

  • Three-quarters of all the military equipment and goods for Afghanistan goes through Karachi.
  • Germany is the only NATO country with permission to transport war materiel through Russia by rail. But other countries, including Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, have refused permits so no trains have actually run.

The Bundeswehr has also looked into the feasibility of building additional stretches of track in Afghanistan. There are already 20-year-old plans from the days of the Soviet occupation. The railroad could connect the border town of Hairatan with Mazar-e-Sharif, 67 kilometers away. Thanks to a bridge built in 1982 across the Amu Darya River, which serves as the border between Afghanistan and Uzbekistan, Hairatan has a direct connection to the rail network in Termes.

The financing is still up in the air, though. But given that the project would both make it easier to bring supplies to NATO troops and promote the region’s economy, military officials hope to receive funds from the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development and international organizations. For example, the Asian Development Bank plans to prepare a feasibility study with the support of the Uzbek government.

In December, a privately owned Uzbek railroad company, which already operates in Afghanistan’s Herat Province, contacted the German Embassy in Kabul. According to a confidential report the embassy sent to the German Foreign Ministry in Berlin, the Uzbek company “would like to work with German companies” to implement projects sponsored by the development bank.
Source: Der Spiegel

Russia allows arms to Afghanistan by rail

The Russian government has decided to permit the German military to ship arms and military hardware by rail through Russia to the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan. Previous transit agreements only covered non-lethal cargo.

Response by Russian MFA Spokesman Andrei Nesterenko to a Media Question Relating to Ground Transit through Russian Territory of Bundeswehr Military Cargoes to Afghanistan

Question: Has the present crisis in Russian-NATO relations affected the agreements concluded by Russia with individual member countries of the alliance regarding transit through Russian territory of military cargoes for the needs of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan?

Answer: The Russian side, including at the highest political level, has reaffirmed its interest in continuing and increasing cooperation with the alliance in the Afghan sector. This also concerns the fulfillment of the obligations under the transit agreements concluded with Germany, France and other partner countries acting as suppliers of troops for the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan.

During the 10th round of Russian-German Interstate Consultations at summit level (St. Petersburg, October 2, 2008), the President of Russia and the FRG Chancellor gave a high assessment of the practical interaction experience accumulated in a bilateral format with regard to Afghanistan, and spoke for expanding it. In particular, it was about launching in addition to the functioning air bridge of supply for the German ISAF contingent the railway transit of Bundeswehr military cargoes to Afghanistan, which is also provided for in the 2003-2004 bilateral intergovernmental agreements currently in force.

By way of the realization of the political decision adopted at the summit, the Federal Customs Service on November 10 issued a general permit to carry out in accordance with a request from the FRG Government railway transit through Russian territory of Bundeswehr arms and military hardware and equipment to Afghanistan. This will be the first experiment of this kind in Russian relations with foreign states, taking into account close cooperation with Germany in the field of combating the common security challenges and threats.
Source Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia website

German plan for Hayratan – Mazar-i-Sharif railway

A report from the Gulf Times of 31 August 2008.

German army proposes new Afghan rail link

The German military is considering building a railway line in northern Afghanistan to ease transport of Nato supplies to the country and boost economic activity in the area, a German news magazine reported yesterday.

Apart from a short stretch from Uzbekistan, Afghanistan has almost no functioning railways, with less than 25km of track in the entire country. A number of railways leading towards Afghanistan stop short of the border.

The proposed 67km stretch would link the northern city of Mazar-I-Sharif with the Uzbek town of Termez, where the German air force has a base, Der Spiegel magazine reported.

Germany currently has an agreement with Moscow permitting it to transport supplies via rail through Russia to Afghanistan. The new link would greatly ease supplies to Germany’s biggest Afghan base at Mazar-i-Sharif.

The cost of the proposed railway has not been calculated but the military is hoping for financial contributions from Germany’s development agency and from international organisations, stressing the economic benefits, Spiegel said.

The line would connect with an existing Soviet-built rail and road bridge crossing the Amu Darya River which separates the Afghanistan and Uzbekistan. The bridge, built in 1982, was closed by the Taliban in 1997 after they took control of the area and was reopened in late 2001.

Germany and Uzbekistan signed a transit agreement on 4 March 2008.

Update: Here is the original article in Der Spiegel: Bundeswehr plant den Bau einer Bahnlinie in Afghanistan (German army plans to build a railway line in Afghanistan), dated August 30.

Soldaten bergen Lok

“Soldiers save locomotive ” reports the latest issue of the German publication Eisenbahn Magazin (issue 8/2006, page 86).

Afghanistan ist bis heute eines wenigen Laender ohne SchienenverkehrAfghanistan is to today one of the few countries without rail traffic. We know this is not quite true! I’d write them a letter, but unfortunately my German only runs to buying ein bier, noch ein bier, and finding the best way of getting to the railway station.