By Ebrahim Fallahi, Tehran Times
TEHRAN - Iran and Afghanistan signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on Sunday for implementing a project linking rail networks of the two neighboring countries. The MOU, between Islamic Republic of Iran Railways (IRIR), also known as RAI, and Afghanistan Railway Authority (ARA), was signed by IRIR's Managing Director Saeed Mohammadzadeh and Afghanistan Railway Authority's Director General Mohammad Yamma Shams during a meeting at IRIR's building in Tehran.
Alongside the construction of railway between Iran's city of Khaf and
Afghanistan's city of Herat, the MOU calls for further railway cooperation
between the two sides.
During the event, the officials emphasized the importance of Iran-Afghanistan railway projecs and called for acceleration of efforts from both sides for completion of Khaf-Herat railway as soon as possible.
The projected Khaf-Herat railway will be about 140 kilometers (km), of which 60 km is funded by the Iranian side and the rest will be financed by Afghanistan.
source: google map
According to Mohammadzadeh, IRIR will complete 30km of its 60km-share by the 15th of the current Iranian calendar month of Mordad (August 6) after which the two countries railways will officially be connected.
The railway is going to be used for freight transit in the first phase but passenger transfer has also been foreseen for a near future.
Khaf-Herat railway part of East-West corridor
The Iranian official noted that completion of Khaf-Herat line is just a small part of a much bigger project and the two countries plan to build some part of the East-West railway corridor which extends from China to Europe through Iran and Afghanistan.
According to Mohammadzadeh, Iran and Afghanistan have signed an MOU with five other countries which are in the way of East-West corridor and further negotiations are still ongoing in this regard.
"With the establishment of East-West corridor, Iranian railway will have the potential for transferring over 100 million tons of goods through the country in the next 10 years," he added.
IRIR ready to share knowledge and technology
Mohammadzadeh further said, "Iran has good experience and knowledge in railway construction and IRIR is ready to provide ARA with knowledge, technology and experience."
"IRIR is planning to hold training courses for ARA employees and for the time being 96 ARA members will be coming to Iran to participate in these courses," he said.
Mohammad Yamma Shams for his part expressed satisfaction with IRIR's efforts for the completion of Iranian side of the Khaf-Herat project saying, "We hope the construction of Iran-Afghanistan railway will lead to better economic relations between the two countries."
Shams further mentioned the tender for construction of Afghanistan's side of the line which is going to be held to choose an Iranian contractor to execute the project.
"ARA has made the necessary preparations and a competent Iranian company will be chosen through tender for execution of the Afghan part of the deal," he said.
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