JAPANESE trading group Marubeni Corp has ordered 25 inter-city coaches from Bombardier’s DWA Ammendorf plant at a cost of DM40m. The order is the first step in a programme to renew the Uzbek Railways fleet, which includes over 500 vehicles supplied by DWA prior to the break-up of the Comecon bloc.

UTY Chairman Normat Ermetov told his colleagues from other CIS railways that aid from the Japanese government had enabled several investment projects to get under way, including renovation of the main railway workshops in Toshkent and the purchase of 100 tank wagons. Traffic on the 4300 km network grew last year after falling since 1991. Freight was 3% up at 41 million tonnes and passenger traffic jumped 13% compared to 1997, leading to a doubling in revenue.

The Uzbek government has set up a Railway Reform Council to oversee the restructuring of UTY along business lines. The existing five divisions will be replaced by four new companies for Freight and Passenger operations, Motive Power & Rolling Stock and Infrastructure, which will include an integrated control centre. Activities such as maintenance workshops and support services will be transferred to the private sector.

The government has authorised seven investment projects totalling US$1·2bn, including further electrification and the construction of two new lines. A 342 km link from Uchkuduk to Nukus will serve the western part of the country currently rail-connected via Turkmenistan, and open up mineral reserves. The 124 km link running southeast from Guzar to Kumkurgan near Termez will have similar objectives (RG 6.95 p335).