Stars & Stripes in Hairatan

A report from Stars & Stripes about US support for the development of rail capabilities at Hairatan. US Army Captain Donald Moyer “estimates that Afghan rail is still at least a decade away from being self-sufficient”.

There are some good aerial photos of the railway facilities, including an unusual view of a TEM2 seen from high above.

In their 10 months at Port Hairaton, the five rail team members say that while much has improved, it’s been challenging to get Afghans to buy into the concept of the railroad as part of an interconnected transportation system, instead of an independent entity. Their work has been slowed, too, by bureaucracy: Several ministries are trying to have a say about the future of Afghan rail.

Source: Work on Afghanistan’s sole rail line falls to five soldiers, Heath Druzin, Stars and Stripes, 24 May 2014

Rail developments in northern Afghanistan

An interesting article about the Uzbekistan – Hayratan – Mazar-i-Sharif railway from the Fayetteville Observer: U.S. works to get Afghans on track with rail network, Drew Brooks, Fay Observer, 2 May 2014.

The article is well worth a read. Some highlights:

  • About 4 600 wagons a month use the line between the border and Mazar-e-Sharif.
  • More than 90% of the fuel used by coalition forces enters Afghanistan by rail through Hayratan.
  • The railway from Camp Marmal near Mazar-i-Sharif is a “secondary outlet” for military equipment leaving for ports in Latvia or Estonia.
  • The line is a “major thoroughfare” for coalition military equipment being shipped to Germany or France, but has only carried about 600 to 700 US containers
  • The line is operated by Uzbekistan as part of a bilateral agreement. The Uzbek government – not Afghanistan – collects money from the imports.
  • Afghanistan is expected to eventually take control of the line.
  • Afghanistan has already assumed responsibility for some tasks and purchased its first two locomotives [does anyone know what they are?].
  • The international co-operation that helped create the line is seen as integral to the development of a larger network.
  • “This is the safest place in all of Afghanistan.”

There are also a couple of photos, including a good aerial view of the area around the Friendship Bridge.

Finally: “The idea of a transportation network is a new idea for them,” Hakey said before motioning to a small wooden tabletop. “Back home, you have a lot of interest groups, there are rail fans. Here, you could probably lay out all the photos of Afghan rail on this table.”

Hayratan port

DVIDS has three articles about the Hayratan port by Michael Vanpool.

Photo of riverside quay at Hayratan port

… more than half of everything arriving into country is from the trains in Hairatan.

“[International Security Assistance Force] cargo comes through trains, and also fuel comes through here as well,” said Maj. Jason Cole, tactical command post officer in charge, 101st Sus. Bde. Joint Combat Outpost Hairatan.

“Basically the train is a great mover. Take a look at the U.S. History; the train did a lot for the growth of our nation. Trains, it’s the way to go for the future of Afghanistan, and they have a lot of plans for trains.”

Railroads in Afghanistan are starting to be embraced more by the country, after decades of war halted the expansion of trains into the country. Now the rails are planned to grow from the north down to the other provinces.

Source: New line for coalition forces, new life for Afghanistan, Michael Vanpool, DVIDS, 2011-09-17

Why Hairatan Gate matters


The rail line at the Hairatan Gate Border Crossing provides residents in Northern Afghanistan not only a chance for economic stability, but a means for helping troops get cargo and equipment back home during the future drawdown.

[Photo: Peter Mayes/DVIDS, 2011-04-26]

Why Hairatan Gate matters


[Hayratan] is the first and only border crossing with a functioning rail line which currently runs from Hairatan all the way to Mazar-E-Sharif. The intent is to re-establish the distribution network in the north through Europe and Central Asia, and tie that line into its infrastructure.


Finally, while promoting economic stability in the region, establishing a rail line at the Hairatan gate border crossing fits firmly into the intent laid out by International Security Assistance Forces Commander Gen. David Petraeus to create a means of a future withdrawal from Afghanistan.

“We’re trying to think two to three steps ahead of where we’re at. A safe, reliable route from Afghanistan is a plus,” Wentworth said. “But we also need to ensure that we’re meeting [President Obama’s] intent and conditions that are being laid out.

The rail line was funded by the Central Asian banks and the Uzbekistan government built it.

“It’s just one step in the development of this region,” Wentworth said. “It’s been tested and shown to be functional. All that needs to be agreed upon is the day-to-day operation of it. That’s something that has to be figured out between the two governments.”

Source: Why Hairatan Gate matters, Sgt. 1st Class Peter Mayes, 101st Sustainment Brigade, 101st Airborne Division (AA) Public Affairs, 2011-05-13

DVIDS also has a video:

Hairaton Gate rail port

Gate could open doors to something much bigger” is a 29 April 2011 report on the Hayratan border facilities by Philip Grey, military affairs reporter of The Leaf-Chronicle, who is embedded with the US 101st Airborne Division in Afghanistan.

Some highlights:

  • “The Hairaton Gate Border Crossing rail facility, after years of post-Soviet invasion neglect, is beginning to garner renewed attention and resources as an important piece of the economic effort in Afghanistan.”
  • “Commerce and freight is moving through here – a lot of it. The majority of fuel coming into Afghanistan, for example, moves through this point”
  • “the Afghans are also getting some help from Uzbek railway contractors, whom Maj. Wentworth calls some of the best in the world”

There also photos of the Hayratan facilties, and a Colin Kelly/Military Times video dated 27 April 2011 which suggest the “about 72 km” railway to Mazar-i-Sharif is operational.

There seems to be a rebranding of the Friendship Bridge as the Freedom Bridge, which I have also seen in reports elsewhere. Different name, or different translation?

A linked 30 April 2011 article (the Leaf Chronicle website’s dates seem a bit broken, changing depending where you click – I’ve found an article which apparently isn’t going to be written for another two years!), ‘Most Diverse Force’ keeps train rolling in Afghanistan, gives some more details of what is happening at the Afghan-Uzbek border:

For example, there is the mission to develop the Northern Distribution Network in Afghanistan, of which the centerpiece is the rail yard at Hairaton Gate. The 101st SB team on the ground has been tasked with teaching the Afghans how to handle the complex issues of cross-border commerce and the utilization of road and rail assets to restore the economy of the region for the long term, a mission that will greatly improve the U.S. military’s logistical situation in the near term if it is successful.

The effort requires more than logistical skills. It requires a genuine, full-fledged effort at partnering with the Afghans as equals, requiring a flexible mindset and reams of patience.


And a 29 April 2011 story about a visit to the Friendship (or Freedom) Bridge: Afghan officials bristle at bridge photos:

Frankly, the bridge itself is no great shakes to look at, being a completely utilitarian piece of Soviet construction totally absent of any aesthetic value. In other words, it’s kind of ugly, gray and dull, which describes about 90 percent (being charitable) of everything built by the Russians during the Soviet era.

However, the bridge is a big deal to the Afghans – not because the Soviets built it, but because they used it to leave. As a matter of fact, the Afghans just celebrated that event a few days ago, on April 27.


Border checks at Hayratan

TEM2 locomotive at Hayratan in Afghanistan

Members of the Afghan National Border Police listen to an instructor as they search locomotive TEM2 6773 near the Hayratan border crossing point (Photo: DVIDS, 2011-01-10).

Ready, CET, Go! A new training program begins at Afghan border

HAIRATAN, Afghanistan — Recently, soldiers of the Military Police “Mohawk” Platoon of 10th Mountain Division’s 1st Brigade Special Troops Battalion in conjunction with the Border Management Task Force trained members of Afghan National Border Police for a Contraband Enforcement Team at the Friendship Bridge border crossing in northern Afghanistan.

[Lots more]

Source: DVIDS press release, 2011-01-16