KYRGYZSTAN: Work is to begin this year on the US$100m electrification of the 154 km main line linking the capital Bishkek with Lugovoy in Kazakhstan, KTZ Chief Executive Nariman Tuleev announced on January 31.

Logovoy is on the route from Toshkent in Uzbekistan to Almaty in Kazakhstan, and the line to be electrified is a major artery connecting Kyrgyzstan to its neighbours and providing onward links to Russia.

The 25 kV 50 Hz electrification will be undertaken in collaboration with CNC of China, and includes the construction of a loco depot as well as track upgrading and resignalling to raise speeds from 60 to 120 km/h. KTZ believes that electrification will attract more passengers, principally on a newly-established commuter service around Bishkek, and could help reduce the rate of migration from the Chui region.

The 60 km line east from Bishkek to Tokmok is proposed for electrification at a later stage.

After nearly two decades of decline, KTZ has recently embarked on a number of large-scale development programmes. It has refurbished 750 of its 1 150 wagons, and last year bought 60 wagons from Russia using a 20-year credit. Freight turnover in 2007 was up 30% on 2006, with intermodal volumes rising threefold. A 'one-stop' system at Alamedin handles all customs, veterinary and cargo-handling services. Passenger facilities are also being upgraded.