$8bn China-Kyrgyzstan railway ‘to start in October’

Japarov’s Facebook page carries this image of him meeting Wang Tongjun, a senior executive of the China State Railways, in March
Work on a 523km railway between western China and Uzbekistan through Kyrgyzstan will start in October, Kyrgyz president Sadyr Japarov said in a speech this week, reports The Diplomat, citing local media.

This decision was reached in March during a meeting in the Kyrgyz capital of Bishkek between Japarov and Wang Tongjun, deputy general manager of China State Railways (pictured).

Japarov said Kyrgyzstan was a “dead-end state” for logistics, with its exports limited to Kazakhstan and Russia.

The China-Kyrgyzstan-Uzbekistan (CKU) railway would allow it to “go out into the world”.

“We will enter the world market. Through the railway we will go out to the sea,” he said.

Now, 48% of Kyrgyzstan’s exports go to Russia, 18% to Kazakhstan and 11% to Uzbekistan. A railway to China could radically change that picture.

It would also shorten the route from China to Europe by 900km, cutting transit times for freight by about eight days.

The bulk of construction will take place in Kyrgyzstan and western China since Uzbekistan already has a well-developed rail network

The cost of the line is expected to be $8bn, with $4.7bn spent on the Kyrgyz element.

The price reflects the mountainous terrain, which will require 50 tunnels and 90 bridges.

A special purpose company formed by the three countries will oversee the project.

Staff seconded from their rail operators will design, build and operate the line as a concessionaire.

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