The governments of Iran and Afghanistan inaugurated the Khaf-Herat project in December 2020. Credit: President of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
The railway project will connect eastern Iran to western Afghanistan. Credit: Ministry of Roads & Urban Development of Iran.
It will strengthen political, cultural and trade ties between Iran and Afghanistan. Credit: MoICAfghanistan.

The Khaf-Herat Railway Project is a 225km-long cross-border railway between Iran and Afghanistan, linking eastern Iran to western Afghanistan. It is one of the significant infrastructure projects managed by the Railways of the Islamic Republic of Iran (RAI) and Afghanistan Railway Authority (ARA).

The railway project involves four sections, two of which are located in Iran and the remaining in Afghanistan. The first three sections, spanning a combined length of 140km, were inaugurated in December 2020. A test freight train transported 500t of cement between Khaf station in Iran and Rozanak station in Afghanistan.

The construction of the Khaf-Herat line, which is part of the Iran-Afghanistan rail corridor, began in 2007. The overall investment in the construction of the first three sections of the  Khaf-Herat railway was IRR28tn ($665m). Afghanistan approved the construction of the first phase of 85km-long fourth phase in February 2019 and the construction of the phase was launched in December 2020.

Khaf-Herat railway project route details

The first two sections, covering a total length of 78km, extend from the city of Khaf to the border in Khorasan Razavi province within Iran.

Located in Afghanistan, parts three and four together measure 147km long and stretch from the border at Shamtiq to Rozanak before heading to Herat.

To be developed in approximately 16 months, the 43km-long first phase of section four will pass through the districts of Ghorian, Zenda Jan, and Enjeel and reach Rabat Paryan in Herat.

The railway will extend to Chabahar in south-eastern Iran, allowing Afghanistan to improve its trade through connections to Central Asia, Russia, Turkey, and Europe.

The Khaf-Herat line is a single-track standard-gauge railway with a track gauge of 1,435mm and heads south from Khaf and proceeds east, across a rugged and arid landscape. The maximum speed is expected to be 120km/h for freight trains and 160km/h for passenger trains, while the axle load is up to 25t.

Khaf-Herat railway project benefits

The new railway line will improve passenger transportation as well as export and import of goods between the two countries. It will also improve Iran’s strategic position in regional exports and is of strategic importance for Afghanistan as it links the country to Europe. The new link will transport one million passengers a year between the two countries and more than six million tonnes of goods a year.

The Khaf-Herat railway project will help in reducing shipping costs, border traffic and encourage the transportation of passenger and goods across the region. It will further enhance political, cultural, and economic relations between Iran and Afghanistan.

Contractors involved

Abad Rahan Pars worked on the construction of the initial sections of the railway project under a contract worth $40m awarded by the Iran Ministry of Road & Transportation in January 2007.

Iranian company Ballast was contracted to provide equipment and materials. It performed construction and installation of tracks in Razavi Khorasan.

Under the contract, the company supplied 90km of track, 110,00t of rail, 54 turnouts, 224,000m³ of ballast, and 150,000 sleepers.

Integra Construction, a company based in Kazakhstan, signed a contract for the construction of phase one of the fourth section in December 2019.