Unstoppable: The Hairatan to Mazar-e-Sharif Railway Project Performance-Based Operation and Maintenance Contract

Publication | February 2014

Hairatan on the border with Uzbekistan serves as the gateway for half of Afghanistan’s external trade, while Mazar-e-Sharif is Afghanistan’s fourth-largest city and major trading center in the north. Overburdened and underresourced, Hairatan required a railway link to Mazar-e-Sharif to facilitate the movement of goods into and throughout the country. In response, the Afghanistan government requested that ADB provide funding to construct a 75-kilometer railway line between Hairatan and Mazar-e-Sharif.

The first railway project of ADB in Afghanistan has established a northern trade route, which is vital to the country's reconstruction. During the first year of its operation, 4 million tons of goods were transported on the Hairatan-Mazar-e-Sharif link, strengthening the local economy, increasing regional trade, and helping Afghanistan begin to redefine its role in the region. The project's sustained operational achievement can be largely attributed to a new tool used by ADB: the performance-based operation and maintenance contract. The Hairatan-Mazar-e-Sharif Railway Project demonstrates that such contracts can be duplicated in other developing member countries to deliver projects efficiently and effectively.


  • Hairatan to Mazar-e-Sharif: A Necessary Connection
  • Engineering Project Success
  • The Performance-Based Operation and Maintenance Contract: Driving Project Achievement
  • Signals of Project Success: Results, Benefits, and Impacts
  • Lessons: Arriving at New Best Practices
  • The Future Remains on Track