THE GOVERNMENT of Kazakstan has approved a comprehensive upgrading plan for the republic’s railways, including new lines to integrate the former SZD West Kazakstan and Almaty regional railways.

Top priority in the package are measures to cut the use of imported diesel fuel, which currently accounts for 80% of KR’s operating costs. Wiring of the Almaty - Chu line is due to be completed by the end of 1998, providing an electrified trunk network linking the old capital with its sucessor Akmola, the western city of Kustanai and the Uzbekistan capital Tashkent.

Three new cut-offs have been authorised. The links from Djenkazgan to Kyzil-Orda and Chelkar to Beinei will create a new corridor to the southwest, cutting diesel fuel usage by around 10%. South Korean contractors will participate in construction of the Djenkazgan - Kyzil-Orda line. In the northwest, a link from Zhangiz-T