Five Nations Railway Corridor

Five Nations Railway Corridor (China, Kyrgyz Rep., Tajikistan, Afghanistan, and Iran)

 The proposed Five Nations Railway Corridor aims to facilitate and enhance regional business relations and promote regional stability. It would connect China with Iran and, in doing so, would also traverse—over a total distance of 2,100 kilometers—the countries of the Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, and Afghanistan. An estimated 1,148 kilometers of the proposed rail corridor will pass through the Afghan provinces of Kunduz, Balkh, Jawozjan, Faryab, Badghis, and Herat. Economic Internal Rates of Return on similar railway projects in Afghanistan and the region range from 14% to 25% or more. The wider economic impact on trade and transit would, however, be considerable, as would opportunities to invest in ancillary and spinoff projects. The Afghan portion of the rail line will be partially funded by the Asian Development Bank and help increase Afghanistan’s access to the sea ports of Iran (Chabahar and Bandar Abbas), providing considerable opportunity for trade expansion. The Five Nations Railway Corridor would also connect China and the Commonwealth of Independent States countries to Europe through Iran and Turkey. Afghanistan is prepared to accrue significant economic, political, and social benefits at the center of this major new Eurasian rail transit corridor.

Current Status

The Five Nations Railway Corridor was discussed at the 25th meeting of the ECO Regional Planning Council (RPC) held in Tehran, Iran from 1-5 March 2015, and High Authorities met regarding Construction of the China-Kyrgyz Republic-Tajikistan-Afghanistan to Iran railway line in Dushanbe, Tajikistan from 8-9 December 2014. Though progress overall is slow, the project’s feasibility study, including a preliminary design for a 654 kilometer segment passing through Afghanistan, is ongoing, and negotiations on financing are also moving forward. The Five Nations Railway Corridor is poised to help advance Afghan Government’s Infrastructure and Connectivity Development National Priority Program.

Recommended Actions by RECCA-VII and Beyond:

  • There remains an urgent need to secure Tajikistan’s commitment to this project, and to enter into discussions with potential financing partners (public and private) for the Afghanistan segment of the rail corridor.
  • Over the near-term (6-12 months), the feasibility study and preliminary design need to be completed of the initial 654 kilometer segment of the total 1148 kilometers to traverse Afghanistan.
  • Over the medium-term (1-3 years), construction should be completed of the full Afghanistan section (1148 kilometers) of the Five Nations Railway Corridor.


Budget & Funding Status Current project estimates exceed USD $2 billion
Institutional Partners China (including the Bank of China), the Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Iran, the Asia Development Bank, World Bank, and United States