Iranian Roads and Urban Development Minister Mohammad Eslami said on Wednesday that the Iran-Afghanistan railway will become operational by Dec. 20.
Talking on the sidelines of a cabinet meeting, Eslami said the Khaf-Herat railway project will be inaugurated in the presence of high-ranking officials of the two countries, IRNA reported.
Landlocked countries, especially Afghanistan, are always trying to access the high seas, said the minister, adding that this route has helped Afghanistan transit through Iran.
The Khaf-Herat railway opening was postponed for a month at the request of Afghanistan, he said, stressing that the inauguration of the project had been slated for Nov. 20.
Eslami said on Nov. 9 that with the extension of the Khaf-Herat railway to Mazar-i-Sharif, it is predicted that three million tons of exports and imports, as well as 1.8 million tons of transit will be materialized annually.
Referring to the important role of this project in increasing the country’s foreign relations and transit and expanding the economic relations between the governments of Iran and Afghanistan, he said Iran’s rail connection to neighboring countries and increasing its share of transit by rail have always been a priority.
The Khaf-Herat railway has a total of 218km in four sections, the first and second sections of which are from Khaf to Shamtigh in Iran, with a length of about 76km, and the third section is from Shamtigh to Roznak, with a length of 62km, in Afghanistan, said the official.
This international railway has an annual capacity of 1.8 million tons of cargo transit from the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), Turkey and the Persian Gulf.
With the completion of this project, for the first time, Afghanistan can take advantage of a railway which provides access to Turkey and Europe via Iran’s 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 be finished in 2009, but was delayed.