EghtesadOnline: The parliaments of Afghanistan and Iran have approved an agreement on the international rail link that will pave the way for a new railroad border between the two neighboring states.
Abdul Bari Seddiqi, an official of Afghanistan Railway Authority, said on Monday that Kabul and Tehran have rail links for the first time, adding that the new railroad border needs to be officially recognized by the two countries, Afghanistan Times reported.
Seddiqi said a similar document was earlier signed with Uzbekistan.
The Afghan-Iran railroad project officially inaugurated by presidents Ghani and Rouhani in December links Iran’s city of Khaf to Herat Province in the west of Afghanistan.
Iranian lawmaker Alborz Hosseini also told Iranian media outlets that they approved the agreement. He said that the railroad project would help Kabul and Tehran share their capacities for goods and passenger transportation.
Ghani said on the occasion of the project’s inauguration that the railroad was a critically important project, not only for Afghanistan and Iran but also for the region and beyond.
“The opening of the Khaf-Herat railroad is a great step for the development and economic leap of Iran and Afghanistan,” he was quoted as saying by Ariana News.
Rouhani said that through this rail link, Afghanistan will be connected to European countries.
“With the Herat-Khaf railroad, Afghanistan will be connected to European countries and to the Chabahar railroad,” he added.
According to Iran’s Minister of Roads and Urban Development Mohammad Eslami, the 225-km-long railroad has been designed in four sections, three of which had been previously inaugurated.
Eslami added that the 85-kilometer-long Section-4, which has yet to be constructed, continues to Herat, the neighboring country’s third largest city, and Afghanistan has agreed to build it.
Deputy Minister of Roads and Urban Development Kheirollah Khademi told IRIB News that the railroad will help boost Afghanistan’s development, complete and expand the rail network between the Economic Cooperation Organization member states, increase transits from Central Asia to India and restore Iran’s pivotal role as the connecting link between the East and West.
When completed, he said, the railroad will be Afghanistan’s first rail link to all of Iran’s southern ports in the Persian Gulf and Sea of Oman.
The Afghanistan Railway Authority said the line forms one of its most important regional connectivity projects, as it will provide the landlocked country with a link to Iranian ports and to the rail networks of Iran, Turkey and Europe.
Freight traffic is predicted to be around two million tons a year, with imports to include oil, construction materials and food, and exports to include grain, dried fruit, plants and medical items.
“We are counting on Khaf-Herat rail route to play a significant role in boosting interactions between Iran and Afghanistan,” says the head of the Islamic Republic of Iran Railways, Saeed Rasouli.
Referring to the economic significance of the project, officials of Herat Chamber of Commerce and Industries have said that the implementation of the project will help expand exports and imports between the Islamic Republic of Iran and Afghanistan.
“Khaf railroad project will help connect Herat to the entire world and develop our export ability,” said Abdul Latif Qanawizyan, the deputy head of Herat Chamber of Commerce and Industries.