Tehran, Jan 19, IRNA – Iranian Minister of Road and Urban Development Mohammad Eslami referred to sustainable development as Iran’s strategy in the region, saying Iran is ready to connect Khaf-Herat railway to Mazar-i-Sharif in Afghanistan.
Speaking at the inauguration ceremony of training Afghanistan railway staff, Eslami said Iran’s development is intertwined with that of its neighbors.
Source: Minister: Iran ready to build Herat- Mazar-i-Sharif railway, Islamic Republic News Agency, 19 January 2021
Iran's @esfahansteel (ESCO) has signed an Agreement to Export $4.332 million worth of Rail Tracks to Afghanistan for their Railway Development Projects#VINVI #VINVICORP#Steel #Iran #Railway #Exports #Afghanistan #ESCO #EsfahanSteelCompany #RailTrackshttps://t.co/h9S0qdw3NI
— VINVI (@VINVICORP) January 5, 2021
The railway from Khaf in Iran to Rozanak in Afghanistan was officially inaugurated on 10 December 2020. Afghanistan’s President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani and Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani participated in the celebrations by video conference rather than in person, because of the coronavirus pandemic.
ارگ در ۶۰ ثانیه pic.twitter.com/BjgSMLhPFm
— ارگ (@ARG_AFG) December 10, 2020
‘I welcome the opening of this vital project as an important step towards recovery and development in both countries’, said President Ghani, adding that the railway would be the most efficient, useful and cheapest means of transport. Ghani said the project was the result of ‘tireless efforts’ by Afghanistan and Iran to improve regional connectivity and economic prosperity, and the efforts of officials, engineers, workers and other stakeholders.
He noted that Afghanistan had not been part of the ‘transport revolution’ which railways had brought much of the world. While there had been plans to develop railways under King Amanullah in the 1920s and President Daoud Khan in the 1970s, no major projects got underway until after the 2004 Berlin Conference on Afghanistan where the importance of railways for the economic future of Afghanistan and the region was stressed.
‘Our vision is for Afghanistan to regain its central position on the Silk and Lapis Lazuli roads and to invest in trade development’, said Ghani.
افتتاحیه خط آهن #خواف_هرات
شبکه وصل افغانستان به بندرهای آبی و شبکه خط آهن ایران، ترکیه و اروپا
د خواف-هرات د ریل پټلۍ پرانیسته
د اوبو له بندرونو سره د افغانستان نښلونکې شبکه او د ایران، ترکیې او اروپا د اوسپنې پټلۍ شبکه pic.twitter.com/HOydKrzCFH
— ارگ (@ARG_AFG) December 10, 2020
Iran’s President Rouhani said the opening was ‘a day of peace and blessing’ for ‘two nations from the same roots, history, culture’, which had ‘maintained their brotherhood and neighbourhood as each other’s best companions.’ He said ‘our connection has always been through our common hearts, thoughts, cultures, behaviours and efforts, and today the railway strengthens this connection.’
Khaf-Herat Railway inaugurated at order of Iran, Afghanistan Presidents
In the 36th week of the inauguration of the national and infrastructure projects throughout the country with the slogan of “Prudence and Hope for Surge in Production”, parts one, two and three of the Khaf-Herat railway were inaugurated and put into operation at order of the Presidents of Iran and Afghanistan
The construction of parts one, two and three of the Khaf-Herat railway, with a length of 140 km, has cost 1.8 trillion tomans.
Khaf-Herat railway is 225 km long and its operation is carried out in 4 sections.
Parts one and two are 78 km long in Iran and from Khaf city to the border in Khorasan Razavi province. Parts three and four of the railway are 147 km long in the Afghanistan soil from the border to Rozanak 62 km and from Rozanak to Herat 85 km, of which 140 km was put into operation today.
Development and strengthening of economic, social and cultural relations between Iran and Afghanistan by facilitating the export and import of goods and transport of passengers between the two countries, proper rail access of Afghanistan through the Islamic Republic of Iran to other international areas including the southern open waters, Caucasus, Turkey, Iraq and Europe are among the goals of this national plan.
Source: Official website of the President of the Islamic Republic of Iran, 10 December 2020
Presidents of Iran and Afghanistan at the inauguration ceremony of Khaf-Herat Railway
Linking Khaf-Herat Railway a valuable step towards further strengthening ties, cooperation between Iran and Afghanistan
The Presidents of the Islamic Republic of Iran and Afghanistan described the railway connection between the two countries as a valuable step towards further strengthening ties and cooperation between the two nations and the two governments of Iran and Afghanistan and stressed that today will be remembered in the history of the relations between the two great Iranian and Afghan nations.
Speaking on Thursday at the inauguration ceremony of the Khaf-Herat Railway, Dr Hassan Rouhani and Mr Ashraf Ghani said that the opening of this historic project will be an important step in reviving and a leap in the cooperation between the two countries.
Addressing the “Dear People of Afghanistan”, Dr Rouhani said, “Today is a day of peace and blessing for the two great nations of Afghanistan and Iran; two nations from the same roots, history, culture and from the same region throughout history, who have maintained their brotherhood and neighbourhood as each other’s best companions”.
“Our connection has always been through our common hearts, thoughts, cultures, behaviours and efforts, and today the railroad strengthens this connection,” the president said.
Stating that today is a happy and unforgettable day for the two nations of Iran and Afghanistan, Dr Rouhani said, “I wished that this ceremony could be held in person, but due to health instructions related to coronavirus, we had to hold a video conference”.
At the ceremony, the President of Afghanistan described the operation of the historic and vital Khaf-Herat railway project as the result of the tireless efforts of both countries in connecting the region and achieving future economic prosperity and said, “I wished to inaugurate this great project in person, but the limitations caused by coronavirus led us to inaugurate this vital project through video conferencing”.
Mr Ashraf Ghani stated, “Completion of this important project, despite the limitations caused by the spread of coronavirus, is a clear sign of the national will of both countries and the product of the efforts of engineers, workers and all people involved of this important project”.
He added, “The inauguration of this historic project will undoubtedly be an important step towards a leap in economic cooperation between the two countries”.
Source: Official website of the President of the Islamic Republic of Iran, 10 December 2020
A trial freight train on 2 December 2020 delivered 500 tonnes of cement on the new railway which runs from Khaf in Iran as far as a station at Rosnak (Rahzanak, روزنک) in Afghanistan’s Herat province.1
A passenger train also ran from Iran to bring officials to and from a meeting with their Afghan counterparts.
Rosnak is on the Islam Qala to Herat road to the north of Ghourian (Ghoryan, غوريان, Ghurian). Construction works can be seen in Bing maps (but not Google Maps). Jono (Jonaw, Junaw) has been mentioned previously as a station; I’m not sure whether this is referring to the same place.2
The new railway is in effect an extension of the Iranian rail network across the border. After many years of proposals, construction officially began in Iran on 29 July 2006. The line is being built in four stages, with the latest section being the 62 km stage 3, and completion of the project has taken a lot longer than was envisaged.
An official opening ceremony for the first three sections of the Khaf to Herat railway is planned for 10 December 2020.
Construction of the fourth stage is being planned, with work to be undertaken in two phases with the first running to Robat Paryan and the second to Herat airport.
— Omid Sobhani (@OmidSobhni) December 2, 2020
The Afghanistan Railway Authority said the line is one of the most important regional connectivity projects, as it will provide the land-locked country with a link to ports and to the rail networks of Iran, Turkey and Europe. Freight traffic is predicted to be around two million tonnes a year and include oil, construction materials and food.
AfRA said the operation of a passenger service is also being considered. Studies when work on the line began estimated that passenger traffic could reach 321 000 passengers/year, and freight traffic 6·8 million tonnes/year.3
It took 13 yrs to finish 193 km railway. The cargo train shipped 500 tonnes of cement from #Iran to #Afghanistan to make sure the railway is working. It will be inaugurated soon. Afghan officials have hailed the railway which gives landlocked country access to free water. pic.twitter.com/tK6KiwaOMS
— Habib Abdolhossein (@HAbdolhossein) December 2, 2020
A note on gauges
The new Iran to Herat railway is 1435 mm (4 ft 8½ in) gauge. Known as “standard gauge”, this is the nost widely used gauge in the world and is found in Iran, Turkey, most of the Middle East, China and most of Europe (except the former USSR, Finland, Iberia and Ireland).
The other railways into Afghanistan from Uzbekistan (1 line) and Turkmenistan (2 lines) use the 1520 mm (5 ft) broad gauge, commonly called “Russian gauge”, which is used instead of 1435 mm in the former USSR, Finland and Mongolia. Pakistan uses the even broader “Indian gauge” of 1676 mm (5 ft 6in), although the network does not reach Afghanistan.
This means that in the event of a hypothetical railway line being built from Herat to Torghundi (for Turkmenistan) or Mazar-i-Sharif (to connect with the line from Uzbekistan) there would have to be a break of gauge somewhere. While gauge-changing trains exist, for most freight you may as well just transfer containers between ordinary wagons of different gauges, which is what happens every day on the border between China and the 1520 mm gauge region.
- Reported on the Afghanistan Railway Authority’s Facebook page, 2 December 2020. Also BBC News report, اولین قطار حامل بار از ایران وارد افغانستان شد, 2 December 2020 ↩
- The Iran-Afghanistan border area is not shown in much detail by the free online mapping and aerial photography services that I’ve found… ↩
- Opening up Afghan trade route to Iran, Murray Hughes, Railway Gazette International, January 2008 ↩
@SKhatibzadeh : Khaf-Herat railway will be inaugurated this month. Finalizing and launching this project is an important achievement for #Iran and #Afghanistan bilateral ties. pic.twitter.com/ln7hE06B86
— IranGov.ir (@Iran_GOV) November 26, 2020
— RTA Dari (@rtadari) November 24, 2020
The train on 28 October 2020 comprised MAPNA/Siemens Safir/Iranrunner diesel locomotive2 number 1540 and two coaches. It ran from Iran as far as Rosank(?) station in Herat province, returning to Iran again in the evening.
Officials from bth countries inspected the line, stations and other installations on the line, which forms the third section of the long-running Khaf – Herat railway project and is expected to be officially opened in the near future.3
The Afghanistan Railway Authority said the new railway would provide the country with access to Iran’s railway network and sea ports, as well as to the railway networks of Turkey and Europe. This would enable Afghanistan merchants to export goods quickly, safely and at a low cost.
(Photos: Afghanistan Railway Authority)
Some photos of the railway under construction between Iran and Herat province.
Governor of #Herat Qayyum Rahimi, inspected d 3rd phase of #Herat–#Khawaf railway project. Authorities informed him of completion of d railway track saying soon it will b operational. Governor asked d communities on both sides of d track 4 their cooperation n security.#IDLG pic.twitter.com/flxLi0uQw5
— IDLG Afghanistan (@IDLGAFG) February 25, 2019
The 4th phase of da #railway btwn Iran's Khaf & Herat province started. 3rd phase of work n Khaf & #Herat province is completed 99% & will b ready to b used soon.Railroad between Herat-Khafaf is a distance of 191 kilometers, which will be completed in four phases.#afghanistan pic.twitter.com/1QA0dvtQyw
— Sawabdin Makhkash (@smakhkash) January 8, 2019
And some older photos:
A senior official in Iran Railway: Iran-Afghanistan railway networks through Khaf-Herat Railroad will be completed in the next few months,"
Khaf-Herat Railroad (139 kilometers long) is part of Iran-Afghanistan rail corridor. pic.twitter.com/sCFPCE4vmc
— Iran Embassy, India (@embassy_iran) August 7, 2018
— Ahmad Mirzad (@Ahmad07Mirzad) October 3, 2017
Afghanistan’s National Procurement Commission has approved the Phase 1 of Stage 4 of the railway being built from Khaf in Iran to Herat province in Afghanistan. Here is my attempt to identify the Khaf – Herat railway construction stages.
National Procurement Commission in a session dated Feb 18, 2019 approved the design and construction of 43 km of phase 1 of Part 4 of Khawaf-Herat railway from Ghoryan district to Rabat Paryan. This project will be constructed by a Kazakhstani Company from development budget of Afghan Government.
Khawaf-Herat railway comprised from 4 parts with total length of 225 km. The 1st and 2nd parts with length of 76 km completed recently in the territory of Iran and the 3rd part, from the border to Ghoryan district is being constructing with the length of 62 km, will be completed soon for operation.
Khawaf-Herat railway has high economic and transportation importance and by completion and exploitation of it Afghanistan could connect through Iran’s railway to southern borders of Iran and Turkey railway network.
Source: Design and Construction Phase 1 of Part 4 of Khwaf – Herat Railway Approves, Afghanistan Railway Authority, 19 February 2019
Local officials in western Herat province on Tuesday [8 January 2019] said that the third phase of Khawaf-Herat railroad has been completed and that the project will be inaugurated in the near future.
The fourth phase of the project will be implemented soon too, said officials.
Source: Third Phase Of Khawaf-Herat Railroad To Be Launched, Nasir Salehi, Tolo News, 8 January 2019