ON DECEMBER 21 the government of Kazakhstan announced that the central Asian republic’s national rail network is to be restructured by 2003, with the aim of partially privatising the business. KTZ Director General Ablai Myrakhmetov told a meeting in Astana that the railway would be split into four businesses, of which two will eventually be privatised. This would ’enable the railway to meet the demands of the market economy’, he explained.

Amongst the first units to be spun off will be non-rail activities such as hospitals and kindergartens inherited from the Soviet Railways era.

KTZ hopes that the privatisation will help raise US$2bn for investment over the next 14 years. Of this, around US$800m would go on infrastructure modernisation and a similar amount on locomotives and rolling stock. Over US$300m will be allocated for improvements to passenger services.

  • On January 10 Patentes Talgo announced that it had confirmed its Pts5bn contract to supply two trainsets to KTZ for premium services between Astana and Almaty (RG 12.00 p788). An option covering maintenance of the trains for the first five years is to be agreed by March 31. n