Domestic Economy

First Freight Train From Iran Arrives in Afghanistan’s Herat

First Freight Train From Iran Arrives in Afghanistan’s Herat
First Freight Train From Iran Arrives in Afghanistan’s Herat

The Afghanistan Railway Authority says a trial run saw a freight train arrive in Herat Province on Monday via the Khaf-Herat railroad.
Herat railroad officials say the freight train weighs more than 600 tons, and is made up of equipment and supplies for the company that built the Khaf-Herat railroad, Ariana News reported on Tuesday.
According to officials, an Iranian delegation arrived in Herat on Monday by railroad and the two sides discussed sustainable transportation via rail.
Mufti Mohammad Nasim Mohammadi, the head of Herat Railway Department, says the shipment included 17 wagons that transferred 655 tons of rail equipment and facilities for the contracting company.
Currently, this railroad has entered Herat on a trial run, but the process of transporting commercial goods through the Khaf-Herat railroad will start soon, officials said.
Miad Salehi, the head of the Islamic Republic of Iran Railways, met with Bakht-ur-Rehman Sharafat, the head of Afghanistan Railway Authority, in Tehran last year to discuss ways of completing a 225-km line linking Khaf, Iran and Herat in Afghanistan, the International Railway Journal reported.
Work on the link began in 2007 and the 140-km Khaf-Rozanak section opened in December 2020 along with a free trade and customs processing zone located on the border. 
Former Afghan president, Mohammad Ashraf Ghani, and his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani participated in the inauguration ceremony via videoconference.
Work remains on an 85-km section between Ghurian and Herat, as construction was halted during the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan last year, during which a section of the line near Rozanak was damaged.
Salehi expressed Iran’s determination to complete the railroad as soon as possible and stressed the need to take steps to determine ways of making the route operational.
“We welcome cooperation with Afghanistan,” he said. “If Afghanistan is ready for long-term cooperation and practical agreements with our country, we will also declare our readiness in this regard.”
Sharafat called for cooperation with officials of the Iranian Ministry of Roads and Urban Development to resume construction.
The line is expected to improve trade and communications with Herat, one of Afghanistan’s most prosperous cities, and will provide a trade route to the Middle East as well as further afield to India, Europe and Southeast Asia.
The railroad is expected to carry about 320,000 passengers and 6.8 million tons of freight a year, including the export of oil, construction materials and food from Afghanistan and the import of grain, dried fruit, plants and medical supplies. It is expected to connect with the China-Kyrgyzstan-Uzbekistan railroad and the North-South trans-Afghan railroad.



Connecting Five Central Asian Countries

The railroad project aims to connect at least five Central Asian countries, an Iranian transit official said earlier.
Iran is ready to make further investments and both sides are willing to finish construction on a railroad connecting Khaf in northeastern Iran with Herat in northwestern Afghanistan, according to Iranian transit official, Abbas Khatibi.
Khatibi, a deputy head of the Construction and Development of Transportation Infrastructures Company of Iran, was quoted as saying by the Tasnim News Agency that the project could boost trade and reduce transit costs.
“This railroad can also link Afghanistan with Iran’s southern ports,” he said, adding that when fully complete, the project could eventually carve a path linking China to Turkey.
The project is part of a proposed $2 billion Five Nations Rail Corridor, which would run through China, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan and Iran for an estimated 2,000 km.
More than half of the project is proposed for Afghanistan, running through several provinces, including Kunduz and Herat.
Khatibi said Iran has made proposals with “various investment methods.”
He also said the railroad, which runs for 225 km, 77 km of which are in Iran, would have the capacity to transport up to one million passengers and 6 million tons of goods each year.
Khatibi said a 657-km track in Afghanistan between Herat and Mazar-i-Sharif was the biggest “missing link” in the overall project, and if completed, it would signal a major transformation in regional transit.



Trade Partnership

Iran has been Afghanistan’s top trade partner in recent years and is a key provider of fuel to its eastern neighbor.
Iran’s trade with Afghanistan (non-oil exports plus imports) stood at 3,405 tons worth $1.66 billion in the fiscal 2022-23 (ended March 20), registering a 10% fall in terms of value compared with $1.85 billion in the year before, according to the Islamic Republic of Iran Customs Administration.
Iran registered $1.6 billion in surplus in its trade with the neighboring country during the period, IRIB News reported.
The main exported goods include light oils and products except for gasoline, oil and other products obtained from the distillation of coal tar at high temperature, other unspecified products containing 70% or more by weight of petroleum or bituminous mineral oils, liquefied natural gas, flooring, fresh apple, tomatoes, mineral oil and gasoline.
The above-mentioned goods accounted for 36% of the weight and 39% of the value of the total exports to Afghanistan during the year.
The report noted that most of the goods exported to Afghanistan from Iran are petroleum-based and petrochemical-based products.
Meanwhile refined lead, sunflower seeds and plants and herbs used in perfumery and pharmaceuticals were the top imported products from Afghanistan during the period, accounting for 39% of the total import’s value.
Other imported goods include sesame seeds, green mung beans, pinto beans, single thread string, pepper, cotton, Roman fennel seeds and other kinds of plants.
Iran and Afghanistan have 815 kilometers of common border. 
Afghanistan has always been one of Iran's most important neighbors due to its geographical location and diplomatic relations between the two sides. Therefore, the provinces that have a common border with this country are very important regions. These provinces include Khorasan Razavi, South Khorasan and Sistan-Baluchestan.

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