Local officials in Afghanistan’s western province of Herat on Wednesday said that, for the first time, imported goods arrived in the province from Iran via the Herat-Khawaf 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.
Iranian and Afghan officials have said that the construction work on the third phase of the Herat-Khawaf railway link has been completed and it will be open in the next ten days.
“With the opening of this route, Afghanistan will be able to directly export its products to all countries that are connected in this route,” said Yama Shams, the head of the Afghan National Railway Authority.
“This was a successful test, our railway successfully completed its trip as per planning,” said Sayed Mustafa Dawoudi, deputy head of the Afghan National Railway Authority.
“Work continues on the design and survey of some of the areas lying on the route and will be completed very soon,” said Noor Ahmad Haidari, the deputy governor of Herat.
Khawaf-Herat railway is 130km long, of which 70km is in Iran and 60km is inside Afghanistan. With the completion of this project, Afghanistan can enjoy a railway for the first time linking 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.
Officials of the Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industries (ACCI) have described the implementation of the project as a milestone toward enhancing trade and economic relations between Afghanistan and Iran.
In October, the Iranian Deputy Minister of Transport and Urban Development Abbas Khatiti said the Iranian section of the Khaf-Herat railway route was near completion.
The Herat-Khawaf railway is the largest joint infrastructural project between Iran and Afghanistan.
Iran and Afghan officials have said that they do not see any obstacle in the way of completing the project.
Iranian officials have said that the project will also help Afghanistan to get easy access to Iranian ports at Chabahar and Bandar Abbas.
The work continues despite security threats against the project in Ghoryan district.