MONGOLIA: President Ukhnaagiin Khürelsükh has officially opened the 234 km heavy haul railway connecting the Tavan Tolgoi coal deposits in the Gobi desert to an inland port at Gashuun Sukhait close to the Chinese border.

The opening ceremony was held at on September 9, when the first freight train left Tavan Tolgoi for Gashuun Sukhait.


The 1 520 mm gauge line has been developed by state-owned project promoter Tavantolgoi Tumurzam Co, with Bodi International awarded an engineering-procurement-construction contract to lead the civil works.

The line is designed to eventually carry 50 million tonnes per annum of coking coal, triple the volume currently carried by lorry and at a quarter of the cost.

Khürelsükh emphasized that the railway was built by Mongolian companies and is the first line in the county to be owned 100% by Mongolia; Russian Railways is a partner in the existing Trans-Mongolian line.


The new railway is the first in the country to feature continuously welded rails, allowing a maximum axleload of 25 tonnes. Each 10 000 tonne train will have two locomotives and 100 wagons, for a total length of 1 446 m.

In March 2021 Bodi International awarded Progress Rail a contract to supply 16 EMD SD70ACeLW diesel locomotives.

Russia’s United Wagon Co is supplying 810 wagons with 25 tonnes axleloads, with the first 100 wagons delivered for the opening and the rest due to arrive by the end of March 2023.

A 416 km line from Tavan Tolgoi to Zuunbayan on the north-south trans-Mongolian main line is expected to open in October.

  • Subscribers can read an in-depth article about the railway project by Khosbayar D, Contract Management Director at EPC contractor Bodi International, from the June 2022 issue of Railway Gazette International magazine.