CONSTRUCTION work has started on a north-south rail link in the Central Asian state of Kyrgyzstan, opening up mineral reserves in the centre of the republic. Starting from the terminus of the existing line through the capital Bishkek at Balykchy (formerly Issyk-Kul), the route runs southwest to Kochgorka, where the Kara-Keche mine is expected to produce 1 million tonnes of coal a year. This section of the line is expected to be completed by the end of this year.
The Kyrgyz government is negotiating with an international consortium to finance the next phase of the route, to Kazarman and the city of Jalal-Abad near the Uzbekistan border. Costed at US$2·5 to 3bn, this section would serve oil, gold, aluminium and non-ferrous metal reserves in the Naryn valley. It would also provide a rail link between Bishkek and the country’s southern lines, together with the planned Silk Road corridor from Andijon to Kashi via Osh and Irkeshtam (RG 8.97 p500).
- Kazakhstan Railways has started construction of a new line between Aksau and Konechnaya, which will provide a direct link from Semipalatinsk to Pavlodar in the northeast of the country (RG 7.98 p472). Costed at US$90m, the line is expected to handle 12 million tonnes of freight a year, of which 8 million will be coal. o