Railway authority seals deal with Iranian consortium to run Khaf-Herat line

The Taliban-run Afghanistan Railway Authority signed an agreement with the Iranian Railway Consortium on Tuesday evening to operate that Khaf-Herat railway line.

The agreement was signed in Kabul in the presence of senior Taliban officials. This comes after work on phase three of the railway line was completed. According to a series of posts on X, ARA stated work on the fourth phase of the line will get underway next week.

The director-general of ARA, Bakhtur Rahman Sharaf, said at the signing ceremony that Afghanistan is paying close attention to the expansion of the Khaf-Herat line and will provide technical support as well as locomotives.

Iranian representatives for the consortium meanwhile pledged to transport at least 100,000 metric tons along this line in the first year.

The Khaf-Herat Railway Project is a 225 km-long cross-border railway between Iran and Afghanistan, linking eastern Iran to western Afghanistan.

In July, a new section of the railway project was launched, linking Khaf in northeastern Iran to Rozanak in Afghanistan’s Herat Province.

The inaugurated railway is part of the 222-kilometer-long Khaf-Herat railway project which started in 2007 to connect Iran’s eastern city of Khaf to Afghanistan’s western city of Ghoryan.

However, the Khaf-Herat railway is part of a broader 2,000-kilometer-long East-West railroad running through China, Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, and Turkey to Europe and it’s hoped that this railway will provide landlocked Afghanistan access to sea ports via Iran – mainly Chabahar port.

The signing of Tuesday’s accord came a day after a large trade delegation from Iran attended the “Meeting of the Economic Delegation of Iran and Afghanistan” in Kabul.

Speaking at the meeting, Hassan Kazemi Qomi, Iran’s ambassador and special representative for Afghanistan, said there are many opportunities to invest in Afghanistan. He said: “The economic capacities of the two countries are such that we can work in each sector and these should provide us with a formula or solution. For example, in the economic sectors, what shall we do? In agriculture, railways and energy sectors, we want a solution for cooperation. Obstacles should be removed, problems should be removed and a law should be formulated.”

He also said the activation of the railway line from Afghanistan to Chabahar port is a priority for Iran in order to help expand Afghanistan’s commercial activities.