Letter to the Editor

Main line link will open up Afghan trade route to Iran (RG 1.08 p55)

Sir - The significance of the Iran - Herat line (with possible extension across to the east), is that if further projection were to take place through the Wakhan corridor into China, a standard-gauge route between China and Western Europe would finally exist - assuming completion of the Bosporus Tunnel now under construction, and a rail route around Lake Van in Turkey.

Whilst the Wakhan corridor constitutes as unhospitable terrain for railway construction as could be, if all this were to happen a through standard-gauge route would be created with about half the additional 2 500 km of the proposed route via Kazakhstan (RGI 1.08 p8), and perhaps fewer political complications.

This would give a massive boost to traffic levels along the rail routes to Europe. The Chinese have already reached Lhasa by rail, and latest plans include a route over the Kunjerab Pass into Pakistan, both more challenging routes than the Wakhan corridor.

Incidentally, when I was working at Hayratan depot in Afghanistan two years ago it was receiving three or four full trains daily (around 46 bogie wagons) and I would be surprised if traffic levels were any less now.

David Brice
David Brice Consultancy Ltd,Shenfield, UK