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Sunday, August 16, 2009

Priority projects of the Kyrgyz Railway Company

BY MARIA LEVINA, TCA CORRESPONDENT

BISHKEK (TCA) — Kyrgyzstan is helping in the construction of the Chinese-Kyrgyz-Uzbek railway, said General Director of the Kyrgyz Temir Jolu (Kyrgyz Railway) National Company, Asan Rysmendiev, during celebrations of the 85th anniversary of the Kyrgyz Railways.

Construction of the Chinese-Kyrgyz-Uzbek railway is expected to be hugely beneficial to the Kyrgyz economy. The project will create a southern corridor in the Eurasian transcontinental railway, connecting Kyrgyzstan with ports in both the Mediterranean and Persian Gulf .

"The new railroad will help these Central Asian countries to integrate into the global transportation infrastructure, and establish new trade and economic ties with the outside world. Moreover, the railroad will help to intensively develop regions adjacent to it," said Rysmendiev.

At 268.4 km , the Chinese-Kyrgyz-Uzbek railway will travel from the city of Kashgar in Xinjiang, northwest China, to the Kyrgyz-Chinese border, subsequently passing through the Torugart pass, the Tuzbel pass, the Arpa valley, the Fergana Ridge and the town of Kara-Suu, eventually connecting with Uzbekistan's railway network.

In 2002, China and Kyrgyzstan signed an agreement to study how feasible the Kyrgyz section of railway would be. According to the agreement, China provided 20 million yuan (US$2.9 million) worth of financial aid to this study.


 

Electrification of the railway

Among the project's priorities is the electrification of the Bishkek-Lugovaya section of the railway. The company is unable to achieve this without investors' assistance. In order to attract foreign investment, Kyrgyz Temir Jolu is negotiating with the Asian Development Bank and Chinese investors.

Despite being relatively small ( 154 km ), Bishkek-Lugovaya section is a major artery connecting Kyrgyzstan to Kazakhstan and Russia .

The company is planning to replace diesel locomotives with electric ones, bringing with it numerous advantages to both the company and to its passengers. Travels should be smoother and more comfortable. Trains will increase their speed from the current 60 km/h to 100- 120 km/h . Those living in the Chui oblast will be able to commute to Bishkek, thus reducing (it is hoped) the Chui oblast's relatively high rate of migration.


 

Development programs

Kyrgyz Temir Jolu, which employs approximately five thousand people, has refrained from any of the more drastic actions that other companies have resorted in relation to the global economic crisis, said Asan Rysmendiev. The company did not fire its workers but did temporarily move to a four-day working week: "Now the situation has stabilized and we have returned to business as usual," said Rysmendiev.

Developing the railway has not been easy. Employees of the company recall the days when Kyrgyz Temir Jolu could neither properly maintain its rolling stock and railway equipment, nor pay wages on time.  In a relatively short time, however, the enterprise has successfully undertaken a number of large-scale development programs.

In recent years, the company has become one of the most promising enterprises in the country. According to the General Director, the company's earnings have increased by more than three times since 2005, and the average monthly salary has doubled.

Without outside help, the company overhauls and reconditions passenger cars, increasing their life by another 10-15 years. Over the past five years, 53 rail cars have been put into operation, said Rysmendiev.  Temir Jolu specialists use similar methods of Russian car-mechanics and use modern inspection and maintenance facilities.

Russian partners support the company. They leased the company six locomotives and 60 passenger cars, said Rysmendiev.


 

Passenger service

The company is always keen to improve the quality of service. Cashier's offices for ticket sales are located in almost every region of the country. The offices are equipped with an automated system that allows passengers to buy tickets to any CIS and Baltic country.

Their service is expanding to Russia , the press service of Kyrgyz Temir Jolu said. Since June 25 2009, the Bishkek-Sverdlovsk service runs three times a week. In mid-June, the direct service between Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan reopened, having not worked for the past eleven years. The Tashkent-Balykchy ( Issyk-Kul ) route will develop both economic and cultural relations between the two countries.

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