Another phase in the construction of railway line between Iran and Afghanistan completed (press-release)


On 10 December 2020, with another phase in the construction of railway line between Iran and Afghanistan completed, a 140-km section out of the 225-km railway line between Khaf (Iran) and Herat (Afghanistan) was officially opened for operation, while the remaining part will be constructed in the next phase. The launching of the Khaf-Herat railway line was accompanied by the first freight train carrying agricultural goods.

A week earlier, on 3 December, a test train transported 500 tons of cement between the two countries.

The official opening ceremony was attended by President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan Ashraf Ghani and President of the Islamic Republic of Iran Hassan Rouhani via video conferencing. The leaders of the two countries underlined the importance of the project since the two nations are culturally, linguistically and historically intertwined. Such a development will be crucial for strengthening their relations, and will facilitate an ‘economic leap’ for the broader region.

After the construction of the last part of the project, trains will reach a station in an industrial hub in the outskirts of the city of Herat, located about 640 km west of the Afghanistan’s capital city of Kabul.

As it was noted earlier by Minister of Roads and Urban Development of IRI Mohammad Eslami, Iran is aiming to maximize its transit options through various opportunities, while the routes connecting Afghanistan with East-Asian countries are a very important target for Iran’s trade and transport links.

The shared railway network of the countries has been under construction since 2007. The overall length of the line is planned to be around 225 km, of which seventy six km are located on the territory of Iran and the rest – in Afghanistan. Currently, the line is not fully operational as the trains cover a distance of almost 140 km between Khaf in Iran and the town of Rozanak in Afghanistan. With the whole line completed the trains will reach Herat ultimately.

For Afghanistan, this is already the third railway line connecting it with the neighbouring countries: the first one was built from Uzbekistan to the Afghan city of Mazar-i Szarif, while the second one was officially opened on 28 November 2016 at the border station of Ymamnazar to start the operation on a new railway line Atamyrat – Ymamnazar (Turkmenistan) – Akina (Afghanistan), with its further planned extension to Andkhoy, This event has become another significant milestone in the development of the transport links in the regions. with a potential of expanding the connection to Tajikistan, opening for Afghanistan access to the sea through the Iranian ports at the Persian Gulf and, through the Iranian Railway network, the country will be provided with a rail connection to Turkey and respectively to other countries in Europe.

Together with Iran, Afghanistan is currently holding discussions with China, the Kyrgyz Republic and Tajikistan to explore the opportunities of a new route that will connect the countries in East Asia and Europe, and will pass through the recently conjoined countries. India is also concerned in the development of Khaf-Herat rail project, as it is willing to enhance its connections with Afghanistan further and provide the country with other vital destinations, including Russia and Europe.

Afghanistan expects considerable social and economic effects from the use of the new line.

Thanks to the transnational long-distance main railway line and the infrastructure accompanying it, the shape of the territories will change cardinally, and their industrial development will become more active. The railway is designed to become an important link in the international transportation, to stimulate commercial ties between the countries of the region and to give a powerful impulse for the recovery of the Afghan economy, to promote the solution of social problems, ensuring labour employment of the population.