MR Miad Salehi, the head of Iran Railways (RAI), has met with Mr Bakht-ur-Rehman Sharafat, head of Afghanistan Railways, in Tehran to discuss ways to complete a 225km line between Khaf, Iran, and Herat, in Afghanistan.

Work on the link began in 2007, with the 140km Khaf - Rozanak section opened in December 2020 along with a free trade and customs processing zone on the border. Work remains to be completed on an 85km 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 railway as soon as possible and stressed the need to take steps to determine ways to make the route operational.

“We welcome cooperation with Afghanistan,” he says. “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 help resume construction.

The line is expected to improve trade and communications with Herat, one of the 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 line is expected to carry about 320,000 passengers and 6.8 million tonnes 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. The line is expected to connect with the China - Kyrgyzstan - Uzbekistan railway and the north - south trans-Afghan line.

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