Date: Thu, 4 Dec 1997 10:58:41 -0800
Sender: Former Soviet Republic—Central Asia Political Discussion List
From: Peter Neville-Hadley <pnh@ISTAR.CA>
Subject: New Central Asia Railway Line
To: Multiple recipients of list CENASIA <CENASIA@VM1.MCGILL.CA>

Subject: New railroad in kyrgyzstan—project
Sent: 10/10/97 8:28 am
Received: 10/10/97 8:40 am
From: judith robinson, robinsonj@usita.Gov

New railroad construction

US Embassy's USITA office, Bishkek, 10 October 1997

[Parenthetical comments were added by the original publisher.]


1. On september 4, 1997, the Kyrgyzstani Government issued a decree about the first section of its new north—south railroad construction. Investments totaling 60 million Kyrgyzstani som will allow the Transportation Ministry to begin construction of the new railroad line. This will be the start of a very important railroad project which may ultimately link Kyrgyzstan with countries of the Persian Gulf, Indo-China, and other parts of Eurasia.

Project description

2. The length of the north—south railroad with destinations Balykchi—Kochkor—Kara-keche—Kazarman—Jalal-abad will be 430 kilometers (or about 267 miles). Another line will be constructed from Kazarman through the Kyrgyz Torugart mountain pass to Kashgar in China.

[The Kommersant article gave the crossing point between Kyrgyzstan and China as Irkeshtam, whose road is always going to open next year, but never this. Those who've travelled the Torugart route will know that building this line will be far from easy. Paul Nazaroff, fugitive from the Bolshevik revolution, coming over the Torugart in 1919, suggested, ‘Of all the roads leading to Kashgar, or in general from the civilised world into Central Asia, this is the best, most convenient, shortest, easiest, cheapest, and it would not be difficult to improve it into a good carriage road, so as to connect up the railway systems of Europe with the very heart of Central Asia.’]

It will be 447 kilometers (or 296 miles) in length. This project will cost approximately US$ 2—2.5 billion. The cost recovery period is 5—7 years. The railroad will pass at an altitude of 800—2,200 meters above sea level (about 2,600—7,200 feet). The Kyrgyzstani Government plans to implement the construction project on the basis of foreign investments.

3. Currently, north—south transportation goes through Bishkek— Arys—Tashkent -Khavast—Kokand, describing a huge arc through three additional countries before turning back to Southern Kyrgyzstan. On this route, the distance from Bishkek to Jalal-abad is 1,267 km (or about 790 miles). Of this, 47 per cent is in Kazakstan, 34 per cent is in Uzbekistan, 9 per cent is in Tadjikistan, and only 10 per cent is in Kyrgyzstan. After construction of the north—south line, the distance from Bishkek to Jalal-abad will be 597 km (or about 371 miles)—less than half, and all on Kyrgyzstani soil, obviating customs clearances.

Importance of the project

4. Several large railroad networks which include the Russia— Mongolia—China line, the Europe—Central Asia line, the Caucasus— Central Asia line, and the Istanbul—Teheran—Mashad—Central Asia line currently serve the region.

[The Istanbul to Tehran line is currently cut between Erzerum in Turkey and Tabriz in Iran.]

Kyrgyzstan now has the potential to construct a railroad of considerable importance. This railroad will allow trains to go through Kyrgyzstan from north to south and from west to east.

5. The new line will go through the central part of Kyrgyzstan with rich mineral and energy resources. There are proven deposits of coal, minable salt, lead, spar, facing stones, clays, limestone, gypsum and iron ore. A spur to the Kara-keche coal deposit (approximately 40 km or 25 miles from the main line) will provide the Bishkek heat and electric power plant with domestic coal instead of Kazakstani coal. For the new oil processing plant, construction of which is planned in northern Kyrgyzstan, the railroad will bring raw oil from Kashgar, China.

6. Currently, annual turnover between Europe and Asia is about US$100 billion, according to Marat Isakov—General Director of the State Directorate of Balykchi—Kochkor—Kara-keche Railroad Construction. If the Kyrgyzstani part of the railroad network transports only one percent of these goods, that will bring US$ one billion each year to the Kyrgyzstani economy, according to Isakov.

7. By means of the above project, the Kyrgyzstani government plans to achieve the following major goals:—creating a sovereign Kyrgyzstani railroad network;—decreasing transportation distances between the North and South of Kyrgyzstan;—integrating Kyrgyzstan into the world transportation network.

Contact information

Mr. Jantoro Satybaldiyev, Minister of Transportation and Communications, 42 Isanov Street, Bishkek 720079, Kyrgyzstan. Tel:(996-3312) 21 66 72, fax:(996-3312) 21 36 67.

Mr. Marat Isakov, General Director of the State Directorate of Balykchi—Kochkor—Kara-keche Railroad Construction, 42 Isanov Street, Bishkek 720079, Kyrgyzstan. Tel:996(3312) 26 86 68, fax:996 (3312) 21 36 67.