Islamic Republic of Afghanistan is a landlocked country located within South Asia and Central Asia. It has a population of approximately 34 million, making it the 42nd most populous country in the world. It is bordered by Pakistan in the South and East; Iran in the West; Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan in the North; and China in the far Northeast. Its territory covers 652,000 km2, making it the 41st largest country in the world
As of 2014, the country has only two rail links, one a 75 km line from Kheyrabad to the Uzbekistan border and the other a 10 km long line from Toraghundi to the Turkmenistan border. Both lines are used for freight only and there is no passenger service as yet. There are various proposals for the construction of additional rail lines in the country. In 2013, the presidents of Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan attended the groundbreaking ceremony for a 225 km line between Turkmenistan-Andkhvoy-Mazar-i-Sharif-Kheyrabad. The line will link at Kheyrabad with the existing line to the Uzbekistan border. Plans exist for a rail line from Kabul to the eastern border town of Torkham, where it will connect with Pakistan Railways. There are also plans to finish a rail line between Khaf, Iran, and Herat.
Afghanistan Railway Authority (ARA) established in September 2012, the Afghanistan Railway Authority (ARA) intends to manage the development and operation of Afghanistan’s existing and future railway system with the goal of enhancing economic growth, supporting regional development, and improving mobility for the people of Afghanistan. It also follows the safe and efficient movement of resources, goods and people throughout Afghanistan by developing integrated sustainable policies and building regional and international partnerships
The membership of Afghanistan Railway Authority (ARA) in UIC was approved in 83rd meeting of General Assembly of UIC held in Paris on 12 December 2013 and Afghanistan Railway Authority became officially a member of this union at the moment. Coordination and uniformity of standards and regulations of railway sector according to regional and global standards are of ARA responsibilities by becoming a member of UIC.
Over the last century and a half, plenty of proposals have been made about building railways in Afghanistan. About 1928, proposals were put forward for a railway to link Jalalabad with Kabul, eventually connecting to the (then) Indian system at Peshawar. Lines to join Kabul with Kandahar and Herat would follow later.
The choice of future track gauges in Afghanistan presents several difficulties. Afghanistan is surrounded by three different kinds of gauges.
Iran to the west uses standard gauge (1,435 mm), as does China to the east; to the south, Pakistan uses 1,676 mm Indian gauge, while to the north, the central Asian republics of Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan use 1,520 mm gauge.
In 2010, the gauge question was resolved so that the internal network would be initially standard gauge: 1,435 mm.