By: Shukria Kohistani
With passing four months from officially opening the Herat – Khawaf railway, only two times the goods-carrying trains have arrived in Herat. Local officials of Herat Railway Authority have confirmed that for transit of goods via the railway, there should be bilateral agreement between Afghanistan and Iran.
President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani both officially opened the Herat – Khawaf railway project via webinar.. Both presidents said they wanted to attend, but did not due to COVID-19 fears.
Khawaf-Herat railway is 130 km long, with 70 km in Iran and 60 km in Afghanistan. A week before the opening ceremony of the railway, for the first time, imported goods had arrived in Herat from Iran via the Herat – Khawaf railway. The cargo was 500 tons of cement. In the meantime, another passenger train carrying Iranian officials had also arrived in the Ghoryan district of Herat on that time, but no imported goods have arrived in Herat since.
Afghanistan can now benefit from a railway that for the first time links Turkey and Europe with Iranian ports in the Persian Gulf. The project was started in April 2007 with Iran’s aid at a cost of $75 million and was due to finish in 2009, but was delayed because of various issues. Completion of the project will affect transit facilities in Afghanistan and solve many investors’ and merchants’ problems.
It is worth mentioning that 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 Khawaf-Herat railway were inaugurated and put into operation at order of the Presidents of Iran and Afghanistan.
Khawaf-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 Khawaf 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 Iran to other international areas including the southern open waters, Caucasus, Turkey, Iraq and Europe are among the goals of this national plan.