KAZAKHSTAN: The city of Astana signed a framework agreement for the construction of the first phase of the capital’s light rail project on May 7.

Project authority Astana LRT LLP signed the agreement with a consortium of China Railway International Group and Beijing State-Owned Assets Management Co.

The 22·4 km north-south route would link the city’s main line station with Astana International Airport. The partly segregated and partly on-street alignment would have 18 stops and one depot. Services would be operated by 19 vehicles with a maximum operational speed of 40 km/h. Ridership is expected to be 83 000 passengers/day and the line is planned to open in time for Expo 2017.

The light rail project had been cancelled in 2013 in favour of bus rapid transit, but was reactivated by current mayor Adilbek Zhaksybekov, who assumed office in October 2014.