’KAZAKSTAN RAILWAYS has overcome the crisis’ declared Transport Minister E Kaliyev on January 29. The minister, who is also Director-General of Kazakstan Temir Zhoby (KTZ), was reviewing the railway’s results during the first year following the merger of the ex-Soviet Alma-Ata, Tselinnaya and West Kazakhstan railways at the end of January 1997.

Explaining the background to the government’s rail reform programme, Kaliyev emphasised that ’the railways are the most important mode in the Kazakstan transport system.’ However, inefficiencies inherited from the former regime had resulted in considerable losses; between mid-1994 and the end of 1996 ’the operational and financial situation had become critical.’

Merging the three railways into a national railway with five operating regions has already started to pay off. During 1997 the decline in traffic volumes was reversed, and KTZ revenue rose 31% to US$1·1bn.

Kaliyev emphasised that ’the railways of Kazakstan are now embarked on a market economy’, spelling out the next stages of the government’s Programme for Reorganising & Reviving the Railways. This entails: