HERAT CITY (Pajhwok): A major Afghan-Iranian rail project, seen as a huge boost for trade between the neighbours, was inaugurated on Thursday.
Iran has invested more than $666.6 million in the Khaf-Herat railway project, which was in use even before it was officially inaugurated.
President Ashraf Ghani and his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani, who could not attend the event due to the COVID-19 pandemic, spoke online at the ceremony.
Ghani hailed the Herat-Khaf railway station as a key project, not only for the two neighbouring nations but also for the entire region.
“The opening of the Khaf-Herat railway line is a giant stide for the development and economic prosperity of Iran and Afghanistan,” he remarked. Train transport was the most efficient and the cheapest means of goods transfer in Asia.
While underlining the project’s importance, Rouhani hoped it would significantly boost Afghanistan-Iran trade ties.
Rouhani hoped Afghanistan would be connected to European countries before being linked to the Chabahar railway line.
Atta Nasib, Head of Afghanistan Investment Facilitation Unit said that this will help turn Afghanistan into a transit hub.
“This railway between Afghanistan and Iran is a major economic and strategic achievement for both countries, which will connect us to European countries,” said Nasib.
Afghanistan Railway Authority chief Yamma Shams said trains on this route would eventually carry 1,600 passengers daily.
Initiated in April 2007, the rail link was to be completed in 2009. However, was delayed for different reasons.
The 222-kilometers-long track is part of the Iran-Afghanistan rail corridor, connecting Iran’s eastern city of Khaf to Afghanistan’s western Herat province.
First cargo exports from Iran arrived in Afghanistan last week via the Khaf-Herat railroad on a trial basis. No issues were encountered on either side.