On Monday, 27 November, Kazakhstan started construction of a new railway line that will connect the southernmost regions of Kazakhstan with the rest of the country and improve transport connectivity with neighboring Uzbekistan. The project is expected to be completed in 2025.
The 152 km long Darbaza – Maktaaral railway line will allow to reorient cargo from the existing Saryagash – Tashkent section to a new branch, unload the Saryagash station and increase export traffic to Uzbekistan as a whole, the press release of the Government of Kazakhstan notes.
“Railroads are steel arteries that ensure the development of economic and social spheres of our state. Last year the maximum volume of cargo was transported for 30 years of Kazakhstan’s independence, which amounted to more than 245 billion ton-kilometers. High rates are maintained in the current year,” Prime Minister of Kazakhstan Alikhan Smailov said at the groundbreaking ceremony.
According to him, by the end of the year, the volume of cargo transportation with Uzbekistan will reach 31 million tons, which is 16% higher than last year.
In addition, Darbaza – Maktaaral will connect two remote districts of Turkestan region – Maktaaralsky and Zhetysaysky – with the rest of Kazakhstan. The railway will provide a direct access of goods from Kazakhstan to these areas and from these areas to Kazakhstan, since now they need to cross the border with Uzbekistan.
The project, which will be completed in 2025, is divided into two stages. The first involves the construction of the Yerdaut – Maktaaral line – the state border of Uzbekistan with access to the Syrdarya station.
The second stage provides for the commissioning of the Zhetysai branch – the state border of Uzbekistan with access to the same station. The Kazakhstan’s share in the project will be 85%.
One of the benefits of building a new railway line is the prospect of increasing the transit potential of Kazakhstan.
Kanat Almagambetov, Deputy Chairman of Kazakhstan Railways (KTZ), believes that cargo flows going to Afghanistan, Iran, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan will pass through this line faster. Another effect: the tension on the Saryagash – Tashkent section will be eased.
He also said that the construction of a railway through Pakistan to India is currently being discussed. And the launch of the Darbaza – Maktaaral line will be a significant contribution of Kazakhstan to the development of this strategic route.
“We forecast that the cargo flow will additionally increase by 10-14 million tons. And further growth up to 20-25 million tons is possible. This section, bypassing the Tashkent junction, will be much faster to carry cargo in both directions,” said Almagambetov.
As part of the further expansion of the transport and transit potential of Kazakhstan, the Government is systematically working on the development of railway infrastructure. In particular, the construction of the second tracks on the Dostyk – Moynty section and a new railway bypassing Almaty is already underway. In the near future, it is planned to start work on a new railway line Bakhty – Ayagoz with access to the third international junction with China. In total, over 1300 km of railways will be built in the country within three years. ///nCa, 28 November 2023