A CONSORTIUM of three Japanese suppliers has won a contract to assist with the upgrading of Kazakstan’s railway network. Choi Co, Kawasaki Steel Corp and Kawasho Corp will modernise KR’s telecommunications and reconstruct 350route-km of main line over the next four years. The aim is to boost capacity for the movement of raw minerals from the north of the country to China and the Pacific coast.

The package is costed at ´19·4bn, of which the Japanese government will contribute ´7·4bn as a low-interest loan. Last year the Japanese Development Agency agreed to assist with capacity expansion works on the Alatau Pass border crossing to China at Druzhba/Alashankou. With over 2 million tonnes of traffic transhipped at the border in 1996, six extra tracks have been laid at each station and the storage space for exchange bogies expanded.

HFollowing a dramatic fall in traffic over the past five years, Uzbekistan Railways restructured its management on January 1 to create separate business units for infrastructure and operations. The move follows negotiations with the European Bank for Reconstruction & Development, which has agreed to provide funding for the changes. Japan’s Economic Co-operation Fund has provided a 30-year loan worth ´6·1bn for modernisation of the UR carriage works near Tashkent. o