The rail link between Ghourian in Herat province in Afghanistan and Khaf in Iran was inaugurated on 10 Dec 20. Afghanistan was one of the few countries which was not touched by the transportation revolution brought around by the invention of the railways. Afghanistan never built a railway because its rulers were scared that the same could be used to invade Afghanistan.

Image Courtesy Railway Gazette

The first attempt to build a railway was made by King Amanullah in 1920s. The second attempt was made under President Daoud Khan in the 1970s. In the 1960s and 1980s, two short lines were built to connect Afghanistan to the USSR. These lines connected Afghanistan to Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. However, the Khaf – Ghourian line is 140 Km long with 78 Km in Iran from Khaf to the border and 62 Km from the border to Ghourian. The line is planned to be extended to Herat Airport, making it a total of 225 Km long. The new line is the first 1 435 mm gauge route in Afghanistan, matching the standard gauge networks in Iran and Turkey.

The first train across the border carried 400 tonnes of cement from Iran. It is expected that 2 million tonnes of freight would travel across the borders of these trains. The countries are also looking at starting passenger services.

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