Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on Thursday, 10 December 2020 officially inaugurated the strategic Khaf-Herat railway project in a video conference.
TEHRAN, UIC RAME: The 222-kilometers-long Khaf-Herat railway is part of the Iran-Afghanistan rail corridor. The project started in the fiscal year of 2007-2008, connects Iran’s eastern city of Khaf to Afghanistan’s western city of Ghoryan.
Speaking at the inauguration ceremony, Rouhani said that the launch of the Khaf-Herat Railway will strengthen relations between the two neighboring countries of Iran and Afghanistan.
“Today is a historical day for the two great nations of Iran and Afghanistan. The two nations from the same root, history, culture and from the same region who have maintained their brotherhood and neighborliness in the long run of history,” Rouhani stated.
He further underlined the completion of the project despite the coronavirus pandemic as a great success for both sides, saying: "Today is a happy day for the two governments of Afghanistan and Iran, and I, for my part, am very happy that although I could not attend the inaugural ceremony of this important project due to the spread of the novel coronavirus, we will witness the grand opening by the order of the two presidents through videoconference and this day will surely be unforgettable for us as a historic day.”
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani for his part called the project a historical plan and crucial for trade and economic development between the two sides.
The project inaugurated today is the fruit of efforts made by the two neighboring countries to reach economic welfare for the future, the Afghan president said.
Further, he thanked the Islamic Republic of Iran for its help extended to Afghanistan to fight the coronavirus pandemic.
Elsewhere in his remarks, Ghani noted that completion of the Khaf-Herat railway during the pandemic era is an indication of both sides' strong national determination.
He underlined the significance of the railway calling it the starting point for the revival of foreign trade and economic development of the two countries.
The Khaf-Herat railway was mainly implemented by the Islamic Republic of Iran under a tripartite agreement between Iran, Afghanistan, and India, Eslami said, adding: “One of the most successful countries in using the capacities of Iran’s Chabahar port for expanding trade exchanges is Afghanistan.”
The project was implemented in four parts, Iran was in charge of completing three of the mentioned four parts, two of which are in the Iranian territory and the other two are on the Afghan side.
Iran sent its first cargo of exports to Afghanistan last week via the Khaf-Herat railroad as a trial dispatch to detect possible technical problems and issues on that route.
The 500-ton cement cargo from Iran's Khaf city arrived in Ghoryan district of Herat on Wednesday, December 2, indicating that the route was clear for the official inauguration.
Khaf-Herat line is part of the much bigger East-West Railway Corridor project which extends from China to Europe through Iran and Afghanistan.
Iran and Afghanistan have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with five other countries that are in the way of the East-West corridor and further negotiations are still ongoing in this regard.
“It will create a major hope for the 600,000 unemployed youths who live in Herat. This will also increase our exports,” said Sayed Wahid Qatali, the governor of Herat.
Afghan officials have said that the project will decrease the costs of products that Afghanistan exports to the other destinations in the region.
Khaf-Herat railway is 130 km long, with 70 km in Iran and 60 km in Afghanistan.
On Wednesday, Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif hailed the joint railway project linking eastern Iran to western Afghanistan as a boost to regional trade and travel.
Khaf-Herat railway is important "not only for Iran and Afghanistan, but for the greater region,” Zarif said in a tweet, adding that “as a gateway that'll boost trade and people-to-people exchanges, it will also contribute to regional stability and development.”
A week ago, for the first time, imported goods arrived in Herat from Iran via the Herat-Khaf railway. The cargo was “500 (metric) tons of cement," said officials.
Meanwhile, another passenger train carrying Iranian officials also arrived in the Ghoryan district of Herat.
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.
Overview of Khaf-Herat Railway
With the completion of this project, Afghanistan can take advantage of a railway for the first time that provides access to Turkey and Europe via Iran's ports in the Persian Gulf.
The project was started in April 2007. Iran’s pledged $75 million in aid and the project was due to finish in 2009, but was delayed.
Completion of the project will increase transit opportunities in Afghanistan and is intended to solve many investors' and merchants’ problems.
The Herat-Khaf railway is the largest joint infrastructural project between Iran and Afghanistan.